The patient–physician relationship in surgical students

Courtney J. Balentine*, Funmi Ayanbule, Paul Haidet, John Rogers, Britta Thompson, Tai Chang, Irwin Horwitz, Ellen Tseng, David H. Berger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Students may become less adept at developing strong patientphysician relationships during medical school. We evaluated whether students choosing careers in surgery show a similar negative trend. Methods: Scores from 2 validated measurements of medical personality were compared using repeated-measures analysis of variance. The Patient Provider Orientation Scale (PPOS) assesses whether students are more patient-centered or paternalistic, and the Physician Reaction to Uncertainty Scale (PRUS) measures willingness to disclose uncertainty. Results: From 1998 to 2005, 236 students completed the PPOS and PRUS in the first and third year of medical school. Surgical students remained patient-centered in their first and third year of medical school (mean PPOS, 4.5 vs 4.54, respectively; P < .348). In addition, they became more willing to disclose uncertainty (mean PRUS improved from 25.5 to 23.8; P < .002). Conclusions: Students choosing careers in surgery maintain or improve upon personality traits that are important for developing strong patientphysician relationships. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-627
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Patient-centered care
  • Surgical personality
  • Uncertainty in clinical practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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