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Research Christmas 2011: Surgery

Orthopaedic surgeons: as strong as an ox and almost twice as clever? Multicentre prospective comparative study

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 15 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7506
  1. P Subramanian, trauma and orthopaedic specialist registrar1,
  2. S Kantharuban, core surgical trainee, Oxford Deanery2,
  3. V Subramanian, foundation year trainee, Mersey Deanery3,
  4. S A G Willis-Owen, postdoctoral research scientist4,
  5. C A Willis-Owen, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon5
  1. 1North East Thames London Orthopaedic Rotation, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London W11 1NR, UK
  2. 2Milton Keynes Hospital, Eaglestone, Milton Keynes MK6 5LD, UK
  3. 3Southport General Hospital, Southport PR8 6PN, UK
  4. 4National Heart and Lung Institute, London SW3 6LY
  5. 5Queen Mary’s Hospital, Kent DA14 6LT, UK
  1. Correspondence to: P Subramanian drpad{at}
  • Accepted 28 October 2011


Objective To compare the intelligence and grip strength of orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists.

Design Multicentre prospective comparative study.

Setting Three UK district general hospitals in 2011.

Participants 36 male orthopaedic surgeons and 40 male anaesthetists at consultant or specialist registrar grade.

Main outcome measures Intelligence test score and dominant hand grip strength.

Results Orthopaedic surgeons had a statistically significantly greater mean grip strength (47.25 (SD 6.95) kg) than anaesthetists (43.83 (7.57) kg). The mean intelligence test score of orthopaedic surgeons was also statistically significantly greater at 105.19 (10.85) compared with 98.38 (14.45) for anaesthetists.

Conclusions Male orthopaedic surgeons have greater intelligence and grip strength than their male anaesthetic colleagues, who should find new ways to make fun of their orthopaedic friends.


  • Contributors: PS participated in data collection and interpretation and wrote the paper. SK and VS participated in data collection and interpretation and helped to write the paper. SAGW-O helped with data analysis and interpretation and helped to write the paper. CAW-O participated in data interpretation and helped to write the paper. CAW-O and PS developed the idea for the study and are the guarantors.

  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work. CAW-O works as an independent consultant for Corin Group, a manufacturer of orthopaedic implants.

  • Ethical approval: Not needed.

  • Data sharing: No additional data available.

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