Rural temperament and character: a new perspective on retention of rural doctors

Eley, Diann, Young, Louise, and Shrapnel, Marilyn (2008) Rural temperament and character: a new perspective on retention of rural doctors. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 16 (1). pp. 12-22.

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Objective: This exploratory study serves as a starting point to establish a psychobiological profile for rural GPs. The overall aim is to describe how individual levels and combinations of temperament (mildly heritable) and character (influenced by sociocultural learning) traits allow GPs to flourish or fail in rural medicine.

Design: In a mixed-method study, 13 rural GPs (rural and remote metropolitan areas 5–7, minimum 7 years of experience) from Central/Southern Queensland, Australia completed the Temperament and Character Inventory-R140 to identify the intensity of the seven basic dimensions of temperament and character. These are novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, persistence, self-directedness, cooperativenes and self-transcendence. Semistructured interviews provided in-depth information on what brought them to and kept them in rural practice.

Results: Preliminary results show that our sample of rural GPs are highly self directed, caring, cooperative, objective and persistent. Individual variations occur in the temperament dimensions of harm avoidance, novelty seeking and reward dependence. In particular, GPs who intended to leave rural practice due to dissatisfaction had significantly higher harm avoidance (F = 23.74; P < 0.01) than those GPs intent on staying.

Conclusion: Although preliminary, triangulation of the data sources provides insight into individual GP profiles regarding which particular combination of traits is most conducive to maintaining a rural career, and might provide a greater understanding of rural doctors. This information could provide a basis for counselling of students with an interest in rural medicine and for informing policy on appropriate initiatives for rural GPs and the communities they serve.

Item ID: 18401
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: rural doctor, rural GP, rural health workforce retention, temperament and character trait
Funders: Australian Research Council, Central and Southern Queensland Training Consortium
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2011 06:16
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170109 Personality, Abilities and Assessment @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education @ 34%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9405 Work and Institutional Development > 940599 Work and Institutional Development not elsewhere classified @ 32%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 34%
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