Reading habits of general surgery residents and association with American board of surgery in-training examination performance

Jerry J. Kim, Dennis Y. Kim, Amy H. Kaji, Edward D. Gifford, Christopher Reid, Richard A. Sidwell, Mark E. Reeves, Thomas H. Hartranft, Kenji Inaba, Benjamin T. Jarman, Chandrakanth Are, Joseph M. Galante, Farin Amersi, Brian R. Smith, Marc L. Melcher, M. Timothy Nelson, Timothy Donahue, Garth Jacobsen, Tracey D. Arnell, Christian De Virgilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Few large-scale studies have quantified and characterized the study habits of surgery residents. However, studies have shown an association between American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) scores and subsequent success on the American Board of Surgery Qualifying and Certifying examinations. OBJECTIVES To identify the quantity of studying, the approach taken when studying, the role that ABSITE preparation plays in resident reading, and factors associated with ABSITE performance. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS An anonymous 39-item questionnaire including demographic information, past performance on standardized examinations, reading habits, and study sources during the time leading up to the 2014 ABSITE and opinions pertaining to the importance of the ABSITE was administered August 1, 2014, to August 25, 2014, to 371 surgery residents in 15 residency programs nationwide. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Scores from the 2014 ABSITE. RESULTS A total of 273 residents (73.6%) responded to the survey. Seven respondents did not provide their January 2014 ABSITE score, leaving 266 for statistical analysis. Most respondents were male (162 of 266 [60.9%]), with a mean (SD) age of 29.8 (2.6) years. The median number of minutes spent studying per month was 240 (interquartile range, 120-600 minutes) for patient care or clinical duties and 120 for the ABSITE (interquartile range, 30-360 minutes). One hundred sixty-four of 266 respondents (61.7%) reported reading consistently throughout the year for patient care or clinical duties. With respect to ABSITE preparation, 72 of 266 residents (27.1%) reported reading consistently throughout the year, while 247 of 266 residents (92.9%) reported preparing between 1 and 8 weeks prior to the examination. Univariate analysis (with results reported as effect on median ABSITE percentile scores [95%CIs]) identified the following factors as positively correlated with ABSITE scores: prior United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) 1 and 2 scores (per 1-point increase: USMLE 1, 0.1 [0.02-0.14], P = .03; USMLE 2, 0.3 [0.19-0.44], P < .001), prior Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores (per 1-point increase, 1.2 [1.3-2.0]; P = .002), high opinion of ABSITE significance (P < .001), surgical textbook use (11 [6-16]; P = .02), daily studying (13 [4-23]; P = .02), and high satisfaction with study materials (P < .001). On multivariable analysis, USMLE 2 score (per 1-point increase, 0.4 [0.2-0.6]; P < .001), MCAT score (0.6 [0.2-1.0]; P = .003), opinion of ABSITE significance (9.2 [6.9-11.6]; P < .001), and having an equal focus on patient care and ABSITE preparation during study (6.1 [0.6-11.5]; P = .03) were identified as positive predictors of ABSITE performance. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Most residents reported reading consistently for patient care throughout the year. Daily studying and textbook use were associated with higher ABSITE scores on univariate analysis. Scores on the USMLE 2 and MCAT, as well as resident attitude regarding the importance of the ABSITE results, were independent predictors of ABSITE performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-889
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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