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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


VAN ASWEGEN, R et al. Exploring the differences in psychological traits between surgical specialties at an academic hospital in Bloemfontein. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2019, vol.57, n.2, pp.32-39. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Studies have attempted to categorise undergraduate medical and postgraduate students and specialists into personality types, to determine what influences personality has on specialty choice and job satisfaction. This study explored the personality characteristics of doctors in four surgical and three consulting specialties at an academic hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. METHODS: This analytical cross-sectional study used the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire as a measuring tool which included five scales: impulsive sensation seeking (subscales impulsivity and sensation seeking), neuroticism-anxiety, aggression-hostility, sociability (parties and friends and isolation intolerance), and activity (work activity and general activity). Overall, 70 consultants and senior registrars from surgical specialties (anaesthesiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedic surgery, surgery), (response rate 60.3%) and 58 consultants and senior registrars from three consulting specialties (internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine) (response rate 71.6%) participated. RESULTS: Respondents from four surgical specialties had higher medians than the overall consulting group for the subscale sensation seeking. The subscale sensation seeking scored higher than impulsivity across surgical and consulting groups. The surgical group scored lower than the consulting group in neuroticism-anxiety, with anaesthesiology scoring the highest (42.1%) and orthopaedic surgery scoring the lowest (15.8%). Orthopaedic surgery scored the highest (50.0%) in aggression-hostility, sociability (52.9%), parties and friends (44.4%) and isolation intolerance (65.5%). The surgical group scored significantly higher than the consulting group for activity (p < 0.01). CONCLUSION: In exploring the personality types of specialists, the orthopaedic surgeons in specialist departments in Bloemfontein seem unique in their sociability and aggression-hostility traits, anaesthesiologists scored strongly on the sensation seeking and neuroticism-anxiety scales, while the obstetricians and gynaecologists did not manifest either of these traits strongly. This data contributes to a growing discussion on personality choice and job satisfaction.

Keywords : surgical specialties; personality; behaviours; traits; surgery; anaesthesiology; obstetrics and gynaecology; orthopaedic.

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