The burden of performing minimal access surgery: ergonomics survey results from 462 surgeons across Germany, the UK and the USA.
This international study aimed to understand, from the perspective of surgeons, their experience of performing minimal access surgery (MAS), to explore causes of discomfort while operating and the impact of poor ergonomics on surgeon welfare and career longevity across different specialties and techniques. A quantitative online survey was conducted in Germany, the UK and the USA from March to April 2019. The survey comprised 17 questions across four categories: demographics, intraoperative discomfort, effects on performance and anticipated consequences. In total, 462 surgeons completed the survey. Overall, 402 (87.0%) surgeons reported experiencing discomfort while operating at least 'sometimes'. The peak professional performance age was perceived to be 45-49 years by 30.7% of surgeons, 50-54 by 26.4% and older than 55 by 10.1%. 86 (18.6%) surgeons felt it likely they would consider early retirement, of whom 83 were experiencing discomfort. Our findings highlight the continued unmet needs of surgeons performing MAS, with the overwhelming majority experiencing discomfort, frequently in the back, neck and shoulders, and many likely to consider early retirement consequently. Innovative solutions are needed to alleviate this physical burden and, in turn, prevent economic and societal impacts on healthcare systems resulting from MAS limiting surgeon longevity.
Funder: CMR Surgical