Document Type



Cardiothoracic Surgery; General Surgery; Neurosurgery


Background: Despite workplace mistreatment, which includes harassment, bullying and gender discrimination(GD)/bias, being serious problems for female surgeons, there are limited data from lower-middle-income countries like Pakistan. This study explored harassment and GD/bias experienced by female surgeons in Pakistan, and the effects of these experiences on mental health and well-being.
Methods: A nationwide survey was conducted between July and September 2019 in collaboration with the Association of Women Surgeons of Pakistan, an organization consisting of female surgeons and trainees in Pakistan. An anonymous online survey was emailed directly, disseminated via social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and sent to surgical programmes in Pakistan.
Results: A total of 146 women surgeons responded to the survey; 67.1 per cent were trainees and the rest attending surgeons. Overall, 57.5 per cent of surgeons reported experiencing harassment, most common being verbal (64.0 per cent) and mental (45.9 per cent), but this mostly went unreported (91.5 per cent). On multivariable analysis adjusted for age and specialty, workplace harassment (odds ratio 2.02 (95 per cent c.i. 1.09 to 4.45)) and bullying (odds ratio 5.14 (95 per cent c.i. 2.00-13.17)) were significantly associated with severe self-perceived burnout, while having a support system was protective against feelings of depression (odds ratio 0.35 (95 per cent c.i. 0.16 to 0.74)). The overwhelming majority (91.3 per cent) believed that more institutional support groups were needed to help surgeons with stress reduction (78.8 per cent), receiving mentorship (74.7 per cent) and work-life balance (67.8 per cent).
Conclusion: Workplace mistreatment, in particular harassment and bullying, has a damaging impact on the mental well-being of female surgeons, particularly trainees. The absence of support groups in Pakistan should be urgently addressed so that surgeons, especially trainees, may cope better with potentially harmful workplace stressors.


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Publication ( Name of Journal)

BJS Open

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License