Sunday, June 12, 2016
Exhibition Space (30 Euston Square)
Poster Board # PS1-8

Paola Iannello, Alessandro Antonietti, Anna Mottini and Simone Tirelli, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy
Purpose: Medical practice is inherently ambiguous and uncertain. The physicians’ ability to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty has been proved to have a great impact on clinical practice. The primary  aim of the present study was to investigate the role of physicians’ (i) intolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty and (ii) need for cognitive closure in predicting their level of perceived stress. It was hypothesized that higher degree of ambiguity and uncertainty intolerance and higher need for cognitive closure will predict higher work stress. 

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.