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Surgery Residents and Family Dynamics: Are Our Trainees Equipped to Handle Patient Care Beyond Disease?

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Surgical trainees are expected to demonstrate family-centered care. However, it is unclear if residents know how to address psychosocial issues of pediatric patients and their families. Our aim was to evaluate surgical trainees’ knowledge of family dynamics. Over a six-month period, trainees (n = 16) were surveyed regarding their comfort and familiarity with the psychosocial aspects of patient care and family dynamics. Residents recorded their comfort level with managing various behaviors using a Likert scale, and indicated which family issues they felt least prepared to handle. Most trainees lacked knowledge of family adjustment phases (50%), relational triangles (78%), developmental stages of families (40%), ambiguous loss (75%), ABCX model of family stress (100%), and the SPIKES model (88%). Excluding anxiety and sadness, almost half of residents felt unprepared for dealing with a variety of challenging behaviors. Finally, trainees were least comfortable with breaking bad news. A Family Dynamics curriculum could potentially increase resident management skills and improve patient care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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