Attrition rates in general surgery programs remain high, with many would-be surgeons switching to another program or specialty, according to a meta-analysis in JAMA Surgery.

Reviewing 22 studies on residents from general surgery programs, the authors concluded that overall attrition prevalence among residents was 18% (95% CI 14%-21%), reported Mohammed Al-Omran, MD, MSc, of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues.

According to Al-Omran and colleagues, the results show that "attrition prevalence is relatively high among general surgery residents and future research should focus on developing strategies to limit resident attrition."

The researchers also found that quit rates were significantly higher among women than men (25% versus 15%, P=0.008). They noted several potential reasons for this difference, including a lack of appropriate role models for female residents, perception of sex discrimination, negative attitudes toward women in surgery, and sexual harassment.

In an email to MedPage Today, Heather Yeo, MD, MHS, of the Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Surgery in New York City, who was not involved in the research, commented that "overall it is a pretty good study [but] they probably slightly underestimated the risk of attrition."

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