Grit, anxiety, and stress in emergency physicians☆,☆☆

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The personality traits of emergency physicians are infrequently studied, though interest in physician wellness is increasing. The objective of this study is to acquire pilot data about the amount of grit, anxiety, and stress in emergency physicians using established psychological survey instruments, and to examine their associations of each of these traits with each other.


Thirty-six emergency medicine resident and attending physicians from an urban academic medical center consented for enrollment. Participants were administered the Duckworth 12-point Grit Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which measure grit, anxiousness, and perceived stress, respectively. These are the gold standard psychological instruments for each of their areas. We analyzed the results with descriptive statistics, Spearman correlations, and linear regression.


Nineteen residents and 17 attending physicians completed the surveys during the first quarter of a new academic year. The mean grit score was 3.7 (95% CI 3.5–3.8, SD: 0.56), the mean trait-anxiety score was 32.61 (95% CI 30.15–35.07, SD: 7.26), and the mean PSS score was 12.28 (95% CI 10.58–13.97, SD: 4.99). Only trait-anxiety and perceived stress were significantly correlated (Spearman's rho: 0.70, p < 0.01).


In this pilot study at a single institution, emergency physicians demonstrated a range of grit, trait-anxiety, and perceived stress. Trait-anxiety and stress were strongly associated, and individuals who were more anxious reported more stress. Levels of grit were not associated with trait-anxiety. These psychological concepts should be studied further as they relate to the function and health of emergency medicine providers.

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