Modifiable factors to improve work-life balance for trauma surgeons

Carlos V.R. Brown, Bellal A. Joseph, Kimberly Davis, Gregory J. Jurkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION A balance between work and life outside of work can be difficult for practicing physicians to achieve, especially for trauma surgeons. Work-life balance (WLB) has been associated with burnout and career changes. The specific aim of this study was to investigate factors associated with WLB for trauma surgeons. We hypothesized that trauma surgeons are dissatisfied with their WLB, and there are modifiable factors that can be adjusted to improve and maintain WLB. METHODS Survey study of AAST members including detailed questions regarding demographics, clinical practice, family, lifestyle, and emotional support. Primary outcome was WLB, while the secondary outcome was surgeon burnout. RESULTS A total of 1,383 American Association for the Surgery of Trauma members received an email with the survey, and 291 (21%) completed the survey. There was a total of 125 members (43%) satisfied with their WLB, and 166 (57%) were not. Factors independently associated with satisfying WLB included hobbies (2.3 [1.1-4.7], p = 0.03), healthy diet (2.6 [1.2-4.4], p = 0.02), exercise (2.6 [1.3-5.1], p = 0.006), vacation weeks off (1.3 [1.0-1.6], p = 0.02), and fair compensation (2.6 [1.3-5.3], p = 0.008). Conversely, factors independently associated with a poor WLB included being midcareer (0.3 [0.2-0.7], p = 0.002), more work hours (0.4 [0.2-0.7], p = 0.006), fewer awake hours at home (0.2 [0.1-0.6], p = 0.002), and feeling that there is a better job (0.4 [0.2-0.9], p = 0.02]. Risk factors for burnout were the same as those for poor WLB. CONCLUSION Only 43% of trauma surgeons surveyed were satisfied with their WLB, and 61% reported burnout. Modifiable factors independently associated with a satisfying WLB were related to lifestyle and fair compensation. Factors independently associated with poor WLB and suffering burnout were being midcareer, increased hours at work, decreased awake hours at home, and feeling that there was a better job for yourself. Many factors associated with trauma surgeon WLB are modifiable. Trauma surgeons, as well as trauma leaders, should focus on these modifiable factors to optimize WLB and minimize burnout. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Care management, Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Work-life balance
  • burnout
  • work-life integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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