Anxiety and Anger among Family Practice Residents: A South Carolina Family Practice Research Consortium Study

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Abstract

Purpose

To study the dimensions of anxiety and anger experienced by a statewide sample of South Carolina family practice residents.

Method

A total of 350 family practice residents from seven programs participated. Each resident completed the Beck Depression Inventory, the State—Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Profile of Mood States, the Hassles Scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and the State—Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) on at least one occasion. We analyzed reported anxiety and anger by gender, year of training, race, marital status, type of program (community hospital versus university), location of program, and season of the year.

Results

Residents reported lower levels of anxiety and anger across most dimensions compared with the adult populations on which the tests were standardized and with other resident and practicing physician populations. The residents did not demonstrate excessive levels of anger as a trait or in response to situations, nor did they significantly suppress anger. Although the residents reported a higher frequency of hassles than did normal populations, they did not consider these hassles severe. A higher than normal level of depersonalization was found among male, Caucasian, and third-year residents.

Conclusions

These family medicine residents did not experience excessive levels of anxiety or anger during residency training either as a trait, state or somatic response. Extensive social and emotional “in-house” support, attention to stress-management skills, and the moderate personality characteristics of family practice residents help explain these findings. Initial assessment of psychological functioning and early remediation and program support during training may significantly reduce the potential for residents' impairment.

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