Anesthesia environmental sustainability programs—a survey of Canadian department chiefs and residency program directors

Les programmes de durabilité environnementale en anesthésie – sondage auprès des chefs de département d’anesthésie et des directeurs de programmes de résidence canadiens



Anesthesia-related activities contribute to operating room waste impacting climate change. The aim of this study was to ascertain 1) the current existence and scope of department and education programs concerned with anesthesia “green” practice; and 2) perceived barriers to environmental sustainability efforts among Canadian anesthesia department chiefs and residency program directors.


Association of Canadian University Departments of Anesthesia-affiliated anesthesiology department chiefs (n = 113) were invited to complete an online survey ascertaining current efforts in, and barriers to, environmentally sustainable anesthesia practice. Similarly, Canadian anesthesiology residency program directors (n = 17) were invited to complete an online survey delineating current educational programs on environmental sustainability and identifying interest in, and barriers to, developing a Canada-wide curriculum.


The response rates for department chiefs and program directors were 23% (26/113) and 41% (7/17), respectively. Department chiefs indicated that their departments participate in sustainability efforts such as donating medical equipment (65%) and recycling (58%). Despite interest in environmental sustainability, department chiefs identified inadequate funding (72%), lack of a mandate (64%), and inadequate knowledge (60%) as barriers to implementing environmentally sustainable practices. Only 29% of responding Canadian anesthesiology programs include environmental sustainability in their curriculum. Responding residency program directors believe residents would benefit from more teaching on the topic (86%) but identified barriers including a lack of faculty expertise (100%) and time constraints (71%). Respondents (71%) also indicated an interest in developing a Canadian curriculum on the topic.


Our results highlight current attitudes, gaps, and barriers to environmentally sustainable anesthesiology practice among departmental and educational leadership. Furthermore, this study identifies potential opportunities to develop cross-Canada collaborative educational programs in this field.



Les activités liées à l’anesthésie contribuent aux déchets de salle d’opération qui ont un impact sur les changements climatiques. L’objectif de cette étude était d’établir 1) l’existence et la portée des programmes départementaux et de formation s’intéressant à une pratique écoresponsable de l’anesthésie; et 2) les obstacles perçus aux efforts en matière de durabilité environnementale parmi les chefs de départements et les directeurs de programmes de résidence en anesthésie canadiens.


Les chefs des départements d’anesthésiologie affiliés à l’Association canadienne universitaire des départements d’anesthésie (ACUDA) (n = 113) ont été invités à remplir un sondage en ligne afin de déterminer les efforts actuels et les obstacles à une pratique durable de l’anesthésie. Les directeurs de programmes de résidence en anesthésiologie canadiens (n = 17) ont également été invités à remplir un sondage en ligne décrivant les programmes de formation actuels portant sur la durabilité environnementale et identifiant l’intérêt pour et les obstacles à la création d’un cursus s’appliquant à tout le Canada.


Les taux de réponse des chefs de département et des directeurs de programme étaient de 23 % (26/113) et 41 % (7/17), respectivement. Les chefs de département ont indiqué que leurs départements prenaient part aux efforts de durabilité en faisant don des équipements médicaux (65 %) et en recyclant (58 %). Malgré un intérêt pour la durabilité environnementale, les chefs de département ont fait mention d’un financement inadapté (72 %), de l’absence de mandat (64 %), et d’un manque de connaissances (60 %) en tant qu’obstacles à la mise en place de pratiques durables. Seuls 29 % des programmes d’anesthésiologie canadiens ayant répondu comportaient un volet sur la durabilité environnementale dans leur programme. Les directeurs de programmes de résidence ayant répondu étaient d’avis que les résidents bénéficieraient d’une augmentation de l’enseignement à ce sujet (86 %) mais ont identifié divers obstacles, notamment un manque d’expertise du corps enseignant (100 %) et des contraintes de temps (71 %). Les répondants (71 %) ont également indiqué leur intérêt pour la création d’un cursus canadien à ce sujet.


Nos résultats résument les attitudes, écueils et obstacles actuels à une pratique durable de l’anesthésiologie parmi les directions des départements et des programmes de formation. En outre, cette étude identifie des occasions potentielles de création de programmes éducatifs collaboratifs pancanadiens dans ce domaine.

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Author contributions

Clyde T. Matava and Maria-Alexandra Petre contributed to all aspects of this manuscript, including study conception and design; acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data; and drafting the article. Mark Crawford, Adriaan van Rensburg, Mark Levine, and Lisa Bahrey contributed to the interpretation of data and drafting the article.



Funding statement

Departmental funds.

Editorial responsibility

This submission was handled by Dr. Steven Backman, Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.

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Correspondence to Clyde T. Matava MBChB, DA, MMed, MHSC.

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Appendix 1: Recycling/sustainability survey: anesthesia department chiefs


Appendix 2: Recycling/sustainability survey: anesthesia residency program directors


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Petre, M., Bahrey, L., Levine, M. et al. Anesthesia environmental sustainability programs—a survey of Canadian department chiefs and residency program directors. Can J Anesth/J Can Anesth (2020).

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