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J Surg Educ. 2019 Sep 5. pii: S1931-7204(18)30890-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2019.08.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Personality Predictors of Communication Skills Among Orthopedic Surgery Residents.

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H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, Department of Management, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
NYU Langone Orthopaedic Hospital, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, New York, New York.
J3Personica, Research and Development, Eatontown, New Jersey.
NYU Langone Orthopaedic Hospital, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, New York, New York. Electronic address:



This study examined the relationship between personality traits and interpersonal communication skills among first-year orthopedic surgery residents.


This study performed a retrospective analysis on the data collected in the 2 phases among the 6 cohorts of first-year orthopedic surgery residents (n = 73) during a 6-year period at an urban academic medical hospital. Resident personality was assessed through self-report prior to entry into the program and included a total of 7 personality traits. These traits were broken down into 2 categories, day to day, or usual, tendencies, which measured personality traits when no stress was present and stress tendencies, which measured personality traits when stressed or fatigued. The "day to day" tendencies measured were Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness) and "stress" tendencies measured were Excitable, Skeptical and Imaginative. Communication skills were measured across 4 specific dimensions of patient communication (Engage, Empathy, Educate, Enlist) in an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).


Multiple regression analyses showed that the personality traits identified as "stress" tendencies predicted performance on 2 of the 4 communication skills dimensions measured by the OSCE and accounted for up to 34.8% of the total variance in the ratings of empathic communication and up to 67.2% of the total variance in education-related communication.


Our research identifies specific personality traits that affect resident communication skills related to patient education and empathy in simulated encounters. Three stress-related personality traits (Excitable, Skeptical, Imaginative) had a strong negative influence on communication skills, while day to day personality traits (Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness) positively influenced communication skills.


Communication skills; Graduate medical education; Interpersonal and Communications Skills; Objective structured clinical examination; Orthopaedic surgery residents; Personality assessment; Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Professionalism

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