Advice and perspectives from navigating the couples match in otolaryngology: A qualitative pilot study

Laryngoscope Investig Otolaryngol. 2023 Apr 18;8(3):693-698. doi: 10.1002/lio2.1058. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Introduction: There is a lack of qualitative analysis of the personal experiences within Couples Matching. In this qualitative study, we aim to record personal attitudes, reflections, and advice on experiences with the Couples Match process.

Methods: Our survey, consisting of two open-ended questions regarding the experience of Couples Matching, was distributed from January 2022 to March 2022 via email to 106 otolaryngology program directors across the nation. Survey responses were analyzed iteratively using the constructivist grounded theory to construct themes related to pre-match priorities, match-related stressors, and post-match satisfaction. Themes were developed inductively and refined iteratively as the dataset evolved.

Results: 18 Couples Match residents responded. In response to the first question: "What was the most difficult part of the process for you and/or your partner?", we identified the following themes: cost and financial burden, increased stress on the relationship, sacrificing top choices, and finalizing the match list. In response to the second question: "Using your experience as a previous applicant, what advice would you give to another couple planning on couples matching?", we identified four common themes: compromise, advocacy, dynamic conversations, and applying broadly.

Conclusion: We sought to understand the Couples Match process through the perspective of previous applicants. Analyzing the views and attitudes of Couples Match applicants, our study captures the most challenging aspects of the experience and highlights possible areas to improve advising for couples, including important factors to consider when applying, ranking, and interviewing.

Keywords: couples matching; otolaryngology residency match; qualitative; residency application; significant other.