Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jean E. Lokerson


The purpose of this study was to investigate possible relationships between a physician's personality type and his or her risk of receiving a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. Patients frequently initiate a malpractice claim for reasons other than the perception of an injury. Often it is the result of a misunderstanding caused by ineffective or insufficient communication with the physician. Different personality types are known to communicate differently.

Six research questions were explored in this analytical-descriptive study. The population was the physician faculty of the Medical College of Virginia. The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) was completed by 236 faculty. Information on medical malpractice claims for this sample was provided by the faculty professional liability insurance plan. A stratified and systematic sample of 100 MBTI respondents consented to complete the Tennenhouse Risk Prevention Skills learning system.

There were significant, but moderate, correlations between male Intuitive types and female Feeling types and scores on the Tennenhouse system. There was a significant, but small, correlation between Sensing types and malpractice claims. The relationships between older physicians, claims, and low scores on the Tennenhouse system were significant. The relationships between age, gender and scores on the Tennenhouse system were significant; females received higher scores than males, and younger physicians performed better than older physicians. There was a significant relationship between physicians with claims against them and low scores on the Tennenhouse system.


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