Neurosurgical resident research education: a survey of United States residency program directors

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The application of evidence-based medicine (EBM) has played an increasing role within neurosurgical education over the last several decades. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has mandated that residents are now required to demonstrate academic productivity and mastery of EBM principles. The goal of this study was to assess how neurosurgery programs around the US are dealing with the challenges of fulfilling these program requirements from the ACGME in addition to standard neurosurgical education.


A 20-question survey was developed and electronically delivered to residency program directors of the 110 ACGME-approved MD and DO training programs in the US. Data regarding journal club and critical appraisal skills, research requirements, and protected research time were collected. Linear regression was used to determine significant associations between these data and reported resident academic productivity.


Responses were received from 102 of the 110 (92.7%) neurosurgical training programs in the US. Ninety-eight programs (96.1%) confirmed a regularly scheduled journal club. Approximately half of programs (51.5%) indicated that the primary goal of their journal club was to promote critical appraisal skills. Only 58.4% of programs reported a formal EBM curriculum. In 57.4% of programs an annual resident publication requirement was confirmed. Multivariate regression models demonstrated that greater protected research time (p = 0.001), journal club facilitator with extensive training in research methods (p = 0.029), and earlier research participation during residency (p = 0.049) all increased the number of reported publications per resident.


Although specific measures are important, and should be tailored to the program, the overall training culture with faculty mentorship and provision of time and resources for research activity are probably the most important factors.

ABBREVIATIONS ACGME = Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education; EBM = evidence-based medicine; PGY = postgraduate year.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Jacob R. Lepard: University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL. WHEN CITING Published online October 25, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.7.JNS19632.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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