The Relationship Between Resilience and Personality Traits in Doctors: Implications for Enhancing Well-Being

Authors: Eley DS, Cloninger CR, Walters L, Laurence C, Synnott R, Wilkinson D.

The School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

The health and well-being of medical doctors is vital to their longevity and safe practice. The concept of resilience is recognized as an important factor in medical training to help doctors learn to cope with challenge, stress, and adversity. This study examined the relationship between personality traits and resilience in doctors in order to identify the key traits that promote or impair resilience.

The researchers studied a cross sectional cohort of 479 family practitioners in practice across Australia. The Temperament and Character Inventory measured levels of the seven basic dimensions of personality and the Resilience Scale provided an overall measure of resilience.

The associations between resilience and personality were examined by Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients, controlling for age and gender (α = 0.05 with an accompanying 95% confidence level) and multiple regression analyses.

Strong to medium positive correlations were found between Resilience and Self-directedness (r = .614, p < .01), Persistence (r = .498, p < .01), and Cooperativeness (r = .363, p < .01) and negative with Harm Avoidance (r = .-555, p < .01). Individual differences in personality explained 39% of the variance in resilience [F(7, 460) = 38.40, p < .001]. The three traits which contributed significantly to this variance were Self-directedness (β = .33, p < .001), Persistence (β = .22, p < .001) and Harm Avoidance (β = .19, p < .001).

In conclusion, Resilience was associated with a personality trait pattern that is mature, responsible, optimistic, persevering, and cooperative. Findings support the inclusion of resilience as a component of optimal functioning and well-being in doctors. Strategies for enhancing resilience should consider the key traits that drive or impair it.

Published in:
PeerJ. 2013 Nov 19;1:e216. doi: 10.7717/peerj.216. eCollection 2013. Available at: