Healthcare trainees frequently report facing comments from their patients pertaining to their age. Exposure to ageist comments from patients may be related to greater stress and/or burnout in residents and may impact the quality of the resident-patient relationship. However, little empirical work has examined ageism expressed towards anesthesiology residents in clinical care, and therefore not much is known about how residents respond to these comments in practice. This research sought to determine how anesthesiology residents responded to ageist comments.


Anesthesiology residents (N = 60) engaged in a pre-operative interaction with a standardized patient who was instructed to make an ageist comment to the resident. Resident responses were transcribed and coded using qualitative inductive content analysis to identify response themes.


The most common resident response to the ageist comment, across gender and resident year, was to state their own experience. Some also described how they were still in training or that they were under supervision. Residents rarely reassured the patient that they would receive good care or identified the patient’s anxiety as a cause of the ageist remark.


These results provide a first step in understanding how ageism may be navigated by residents in clinical encounters. We discuss potential avenues for future research and education for responding to ageist remarks for both patients and clinicians.