September 26, 2023

Study reveals impact of impostor syndrome on surgery leadership roles

Editor's Note

This study, titled "Leadership and Impostor Syndrome in Surgery" and published in the October 2023 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, examined how impostor syndrome–an internalized sense of incompetence and not belonging–impacts surgeons holding leadership positions in healthcare.

The study included 2,183 attending and retired physicians in the analytic cohort, with 1,471 (67.4%) in leadership roles. Some highlights of the study include:

  • Male physicians were more likely than women to hold leadership positions, and non-US citizens were less likely to hold leadership positions than US citizens
  • Having a leadership position was associated with lower odds of impostor syndrome
  • Female surgeons were more likely to report impostor syndrome compared to male surgeons, even when female surgeons held leadership roles
  • Impostor syndrome rates did not differ by race and ethnicity. 

The study suggests that more needs to be done to address imposter syndrome among female surgeons, which may be impacting their ability to accept or thrive in leadership roles. 


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