OBJECTIVE: Evaluate how emotional intelligence (EI) has been measured among surgeons and to investigate interventions implemented for improving EI.
SUMMARY BACKGROUND: EI has relevant applications in surgery given its alignment with nontechnical skills. In recent years, EI has been measured in a surgical context to evaluate its relationship with measures such as surgeon burnout and the surgeon-patient relationship.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PSYCINFO databases using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. MeSH terms and keywords included "emotional intelligence," "surgery," and "surgeon." Eligible studies included an EI assessment of surgeons, surgical residents, and/or medical students within a surgical context.
RESULTS: The initial search yielded 4627 articles. After duplicate removal, 4435 articles were screened by title and abstract and 49 articles proceeded to a full-text read. Three additional articles were found via hand search. A total of 37 articles were included. Studies varied in surgical specialties, settings, and outcome measurements. Most occurred in general surgery, residency programs, and utilized self-report surveys to estimate EI. Notably, EI improved in all studies utilizing an intervention.
CONCLUSIONS: The literature entailing the intersection between EI and surgery is diverse but still limited. Generally, EI has been demonstrated to be beneficial in terms of overall well-being and job satisfaction while also protecting against burnout. EI skills may provide a promising modifiable target to achieve desirable outcomes for both the surgeon and the patient. Future studies may emphasize the relevance of EI in the context of surgical teamwork.