Risk attitudes of anesthesiologists and surgeons in clinical decision making with expected years of life

J Clin Anesth. 2000 Mar;12(2):146-50. doi: 10.1016/s0952-8180(00)00130-6.


Study objective: To understand anesthesiologists' and surgeons' risk attitudes about expected years of life.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: Central operating rooms (ORs) in a university hospital.

Respondents: 122 anesthesiologists and surgeons.

Measurements and main results: A 7-page survey questionnaire regarding the length of survival and the choice of treatments was sent to 122 physicians. Certainty equivalents and Arrow-Pratt coefficients of absolute risk aversion (APC) were calculated from the survey. Of 122 physicians, 93 responded (38 anesthesiologists and 55 surgeons; response rate 76. 2%). There was no significant difference in risk attitudes between the anesthesiologists and the surgeons. Their age was a statistically significant predictor of the risk attitudes: the older they were, the greater their APCs were (i.e., the more risk averse they were). There was no significant difference between gender in risk attitudes, nor was there any significant difference between the risk attitudes of becoming patients and those of working in the OR.

Conclusions: Physicians' risk attitudes cannot be predicted by their specialties or gender. However, the older they are, the more risk-averse they are.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anesthesiology*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • General Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Operating Rooms
  • Patients
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires