An Exploration of Myths, Barriers, and Strategies for Improving Diversity Among STS Members

Leah M. Backhus, Jacques Kpodonu, Jennifer C. Romano, Glenn J. Pelletier, Ourania Preventza, David T. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Diversity within health care organizations has many proven benefits, yet women and other groups remain underrepresented in cardiothoracic surgery. We sought to explore responses from a Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) survey to identify myths and barriers for informing organizational strategies in the STS and cardiothoracic surgery. We performed a qualitative review of narrative survey responses within three domains surrounding diversity in cardiothoracic surgery: myths, barriers, and strategies for improvement. Common diversity myths included diversity as a pipeline problem (24%), diversity equated to exclusivity (21%), and diversity not supporting meritocracy (18%). The most frequent barrier code was perceived prejudice (22%). Suggested strategies toward improvement were culture change prioritizing diversity (22%) and training the leaders (14%). Notably, 15% of response codes reflected the belief that disparities do not exist; thus, the issue should not be prioritized by the organization. The results do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of most of the STS membership; nonetheless, they provide important insight critical to guide any efforts toward eliminating disparities within cardiothoracic surgery and improving the care of our patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1624
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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