Is Your Doctor’s Personality Affecting Your Treatment?

Credit: National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Doctors and patients are different not only in their health status but also in their personality traits, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Australia analyzed data from two nationally representative surveys to explore the personality differences between doctors, patients, and other healthcare professionals.

The surveys included the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, which involved over 25,000 members of the general public aged 20-85, and the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) survey, which had over 19,000 doctors.

The researchers found that doctors were more extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious, but also more neurotic and less open than their patients.

The study also found that both doctors and other healthcare professionals were more agreeable than patients.

The results of the study could have clinical implications for the doctor-patient relationship.

The selection and training of doctors may accentuate personality characteristics that differ from their patients, which may create a mismatch between how doctors deliver information and how patients receive it.

The researchers suggest that these personality differences might have implications for the doctor-patient relationship and ultimately the success of treatment.

For example, being more conscientious has implications for treatment adherence, as conscientious doctors may overestimate their patients’ ability to follow recommendations.

Higher doctor neuroticism, which is related to stress, could lead doctors to see stress as a normal part of life, and thus, underestimate the impact of it on patient well-being.

Doctor agreeableness and conscientiousness increase patient satisfaction with care, but could potentially lead doctors to view patients—in contrast to themselves—as more confrontational and less conscientious than patients actually are, causing an asymmetry in doctor and patient judgments of one another, which could impact outcomes.

The researchers suggest that by taking into account these differences, doctors can better calibrate their judgments of patients and gain insight into factors that influence their patient interactions.

The lack of personality difference found between doctor specialties suggests that adding more doctors to a team will not increase diversity of personality-based perspectives.

However, the differences found between doctors and those in other caring professions suggest that including non-doctor caring professionals in clinical teams will increase personality diversity and thus team performance.

The study highlights the importance of understanding personality differences between doctors, patients, and other healthcare professionals in clinical practice.

By recognizing these differences, doctors can better tailor their interactions with patients and improve outcomes.

Overall, this study suggests that the selection and training of doctors should take into account personality traits that may affect the doctor-patient relationship.

This can lead to improved patient satisfaction, treatment adherence, and better clinical outcomes.

How to have the best doctor-patient relationship

Here are some tips for building a strong doctor-patient relationship:

Be open and honest: Share your symptoms, concerns, and medical history with your doctor. This will help them provide the best possible care and make an accurate diagnosis.

Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about your health, treatment options, and medications. Understanding your health and treatment plan is important for your overall well-being.

Listen carefully: Pay attention to what your doctor is saying and take notes if necessary. This will help you remember important information and follow your treatment plan.

Respect your doctor’s time: Be on time for appointments and be respectful of your doctor’s schedule. If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, give as much notice as possible.

Follow your treatment plan: Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and take medications as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan, don’t hesitate to ask.

Provide feedback: Let your doctor know if you have any concerns or suggestions for how they can improve your care. This will help build a stronger relationship and improve your overall experience.

By following these tips, you can build a strong and positive relationship with your doctor, which can lead to better health outcomes and an improved quality of life.

If you care about health, please read studies about a breakfast linked to better blood vessel health, and drinking too much coffee could harm people with high blood pressure.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about unhealthy habits that may increase high blood pressure risk, and results showing plant-based protein foods may help reverse diabetes.

The study was published in BMJ Open.

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