Foundation programme impact on junior doctor personality and anxiety in Northern Ireland

Ulster Med J. 2012 Jan;81(1):19-25.


Objectives: The main objectives of this study were to assess personality traits and levels of anxiety in Foundation Year 2 (F2) doctors during the foundation doctor training programme in the Northern Ireland Deanery (NIMDTA).

Methods: A prospective survey-based study was conducted for all F2 doctors attending the mandatory generic skills programme at NIMDTA. Anxiety was measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) while personality was assessed using the IPIP-NEO questionnaire. These previously validated questionnaires were completed at the start and again at the end of the F2 year.

Results: 147 (M=65, F=82) and 106 (M=55, F=51) F2 doctors completed questionnaires at both time points. STAI scores suggested a moderate level of anxiety amongst both male and female doctors at baseline and at the end of the academic year. There was no difference between gender for either parameter (Baseline-State: 34.0 vs. 36.0, p=0.48 and Trait: 39.0 vs. 40.5, p=0.33) (End-State: 41.0 vs. 36.0, p=0.14 and Trait: 42.0 vs. 40.5, p=0.78). IPIP-NEO scores for F2 doctors were consistently higher in the Accommodation (93.9 & 92.3) and Consolidation (88.8 & 87.6) personality factors and lower in the Neuroticism factor (66.3 & 65.9) at both assessment time-points. Female F2 doctors scored significantly higher in the accommodation factor at the end of the academic year when compared to their male counterparts (88.0 vs. 94.0, p<0.001). There was no difference between the genders for the other personality factors at the end of the year (p>0.09).

Conclusion: This first cohort of F2 doctors were exposed to many emerging changes in their training which did not appear to have any detrimental effect on their anxiety levels or personality profiles and suggests that junior doctors may not be affected by external influences or changing educational environments.

Keywords: Anxiety; Doctor; Foundation; Personality; Programme.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Neuroticism
  • Northern Ireland
  • Personality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires