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Surgeons Depressed Mulling Suicide?

Posted Jan 18 2011 12:00pm

In a national survey, one in 16 surgeons reported contemplating suicide, researchers reported. An increased risk of suicidal ideation was linked to three factors: depression, burnout, and the perception of having made a recent major medical error, according to Dr. Tait Shanafelt of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues. But only about one in four of those who reported thinking about taking their own lives sought psychiatric or psychologic help, Shanafelt and colleagues reported in the January issue of Archives of Surgery.

It has been said by anyone with experience in performing any study that anything can be “proven” with a given set of data.

Two words: respondent bias.

Over two thirds of those who were sent questionnaires in this study didn’t respond. The question arises as to whether or not the results truthfully represent the entire group.


Yes, surgeons are pressured to work hard and obtain good results and they sometimes take poor results poorly. But that is as far as it goes folks at least as far as it is “proven” by this study.

The questions should have included some on disappointment with income. That might have increased the response rate. ;)

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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