Anxious about Surgical Residency Performance? Are You and Your Hands Ready?

EeeLN H Buckarma, MD, Denny Yu, PhD, Becca Gas, MS, David Farley, MD, Susan Hallbeck, PhD. Mayo Clinic

Introduction: Currently there is no definitive method of determining if a surgical candidate for residency is a good match when it comes to dexterity.  We sought to observe if a self answered performance anxiety questionnaire could show any relationship between anxiety and performance on FLS peg transfer for surgical interns.

Methods: Forty-three residents were asked to perform the FLS peg transfer.  During the task the total time, with penalties of 15 seconds added for each peg dropped out of the field, was recorded. Residents completed a validated anxiety survey that was adapted to surgical tasks.  On a 4-point scale (1= not at all, 2= sometimes, 3= often, 4= very often) residents rated the frequency with which they experienced the 15 anxiety related symptoms.  These 15 symptoms were then categorized into 20 point somatic, worry and concentration subcategories; total anxiety was calculated by the sum of these three sub-scores.  A correlation analyses was conducted on SPSS (v22) to investigate the relationship between FLS times and the 20-point anxiety categories (worry, somatic, and concentration).

Results: Total anxiety was not associated with performance time.  But on the analyses of anxiety subcategories, we found a positive association between worry scores and performance times (ρ=0.32, p<0.05) and a negative association between concentration scores and performance times (ρ=-0.36, p<0.05). 

Conclusion: Our preliminary data illustrates higher worry anxiety correlated with slower performance in the FLS peg transfer while higher concentration anxiety improved performance for the surgical interns at our institution. Further studies are needed to see if anxiety questionnaire scores can actually predict technical skill performance in the operating room. 

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