Attitudes and opinions of US neurosurgical residents toward research and scholarship: a national survey
Journal of Neurosurgery, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVEThe analysis of resident research productivity in neurosurgery has gained significant recent interest. Resident scholarly output affects departmental productivity, recruitment of future residents, and likelihood of future research careers. To maintain and improve opportunities for resident research, the authors evaluated factors that affect resident attitudes toward neurosurgical research on a national level.METHODSAn online survey was distributed to all US neurosurgical residents. Questions assessed interest in research, perceived departmental support of research, and resident-perceived limitations in pursuing research. Residents were stratified based on number of publications above the median (AM; ≥ 14) or below the median (BM; < 14) for evaluation of factors influencing productivity.RESULTSA total of 278 resident responses from 82 US residency programs in 30 states were included (a 20% overall response rate). Residents predominantly desired future academic positions (53.2%), followed by private practice with some research (40.3%). Residents reported a mean ± SD of 11 ± 14 publications, which increased with postgraduate year level. The most common type of research involved retrospective cohort studies (24%) followed by laboratory/benchtop (19%) and case reports (18%). Residents as a group spent on average 14.1 ± 18.5 hours (median 7.0 hours) a week on research. Most residents (53.6%) had ≥ 12 months of protected research time. Mentorship (92.4%), research exposure (89.9%), and early interest in science (78.4%) had the greatest impact on interest in research while the most limiting factors were time (91.0%), call scheduling (47.1%), and funding/grants (37.1%). AM residents cited research exposure (p = 0.003), neurosurgery conference exposure (p = 0.02), formal research training prior to residency (p = 0.03), internal funding sources (p = 0.05), and software support (p = 0.02) as most important for their productivity. Moreover, more productive residents applied and received a higher number of < $10,000 and ≥ $10,000 grants (p < 0.05). A majority of residents (82.4%) agreed or strongly agreed with pursuing research throughout their professional careers. Overall, about half of residents (49.6%) were encouraged toward continued neurosurgical research, while the rest were neutral (36.7%) or discouraged (13.7%). Free-text responses helped to identify solutions on a departmental, regional, and national level that could increase interest in neurosurgical research.CONCLUSIONSThis survey evaluates various factors affecting resident views toward research, which may also be seen in other specialties. Residents remain enthusiastic about neurosurgical research and offer several solutions to the ever-scarce commodities of time and funding within academic medicine.