Plastic surgery residents' attitudes and understanding of biostatistics: A pilot study

Srinivas M. Susarla, Richard J. Redett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective To assess plastic surgery residents' knowledge, attitudes, and comfort with biostatistics. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Participants A total of 22 plastic surgery residents (91% response rate) completed the study. Results The study sample consisted of 18 residents in the integrated training path and 4 in the independent training track and was equally divided between junior and senior residents. Most respondents (>54%) had taken at least 1 course in biostatistics or epidemiology. More than 90% of residents reported reading at least 1 plastic surgical journal on a regular basis (mean 2.1 ± 1.5 journals/month). Most residents expressed a desire to learn more about biostatistics (68.2%), reported using statistical information in forming clinical opinions (86.3%), and placed a high value on knowledge of biostatistics in appraising the surgical literature (90.9%). However, only 45% of respondents reported being able to understand all the statistical terms encountered in journal articles. Only 50% of respondents felt comfortable with assessing whether the appropriate statistical tests were used to answer a research question. In case studies, the mean percentage of correct responses was 53.0 ± 24.5% (range: 0-83.3). Higher performance scores were associated with a prior course in biostatistics (p = 0.04) and the number of journals read monthly (p = 0.003). Respondents had difficulty with study design (45.5% correct), analysis of variance (45.5% correct), time to event analysis (9.1% correct), and interpreting a 95% confidence interval (45.5% correct). The number of correct responses strongly correlated with respondent confidence in biostatistics (r = 0.70, p < 0.001). Conclusion Plastic surgery residents place a high degree of importance on biostatistics but have only a fair understanding of core statistical concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-579
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • biostastistics
  • epidemiology
  • evidence-based medicine
  • surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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