TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY AND STRESS: A STUDY AMONG ITALIAN PRACTICING PHYSICIANS
Method(s): Two hundred and twelve physicians (mean age = 42.94 yrs; SD = 10.72) were administered a set of questionnaires measuring perceived levels of work-related stress, individual ability to tolerate ambiguity, stress deriving from uncertainty, and personal need for cognitive closure. The study included practicing physicians from different medical specialties with different levels of expertise to control for these professional characteristics.
Result(s): A linear regression analysis was performed to examine which variables predict the perceived level of stress. The regression model was statistically significant [R² = 0.32; F(10,206) = 8.78, p < .001], thus showing that, after controlling for gender and medical specialty, ambiguity and uncertainty tolerance, decisiveness (a dimension included in need for closure), and the years of practice were significant predictors of perceived work-related stress.
Conclusion(s): Findings from the present study have some implications for medical education. Given the great impact that the individual ability to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty have on the physicians’ level of perceived work-related stress, it would be worth paying particular attention to them in medical education settings. It would be crucial to introduce or to empower educational tools and strategies that could increase medical students’ ability to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.