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The colorectal surgeon’s personality may influence the rectal anastomotic decision

Moug, Susan; Henderson, N.; Tiernan, J.; Bisset, C.N.; Ferguson, Eamonn; Harji, D.; Maxwell-Armstrong, C.; MacDermid, E.; Acheson, A.G.; Steele, R.J.C.; Fearnhead, N.S.

The colorectal surgeon’s personality may influence the rectal anastomotic decision Thumbnail


Susan Moug

N. Henderson

J. Tiernan

C.N. Bisset

Professor of Health Psychology

D. Harji

C. Maxwell-Armstrong

E. MacDermid

Clinical Associate Professor

R.J.C. Steele

N.S. Fearnhead


Aim. Colorectal surgeons regularly make the decision to anastomose, defunction or form an end colostomy when performing rectal surgery. This study aimed to define personality traits of colorectal surgeons and explore any influence of such traits on the decision to perform a rectal anastomosis.

Method. 50 attendees of The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland 2016 conference participated. After written consent, all underwent personality testing: alexithymia (inability to understand emotions); type of thinking process (intuitive versus rational) and personality traits (extraversion; agreeableness; openness; emotional stability; conscientiousness). Questions were answered regarding anastomotic decisions in various clinical scenarios and results analysed to reveal any influence of the surgeon’s personality on anastomotic decision.

Results. Participants were: male (86%); consultants (84%); England based (68%). Alexithymia was low (4%) with 81% displaying intuitive thinking (reflex, fast). Participants scored higher in emotional stability (ability to remain calm) and conscientiousness (organised, methodical) compared to population norms. Personality traits influenced the next anastomotic decision if: surgeons had recently received criticism at a departmental audit meeting; operating with an anaesthetist that is not your regular one; or there had been no anastomotic leaks in their patients for >1 year.

Conclusion. Colorectal surgeons have speciality relevant personalities that potentially influence the important decision to anastomose and could explain the variation in surgical practice across the U.K. Future work should explore these findings in other countries and any link of personality traits to patient related outcomes.


Moug, S., Henderson, N., Tiernan, J., Bisset, C., Ferguson, E., Harji, D., …Fearnhead, N. (2018). The colorectal surgeon’s personality may influence the rectal anastomotic decision. Colorectal Disease, 20(11), 970-980.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2018
Publication Date 2018-11
Deposit Date Jul 11, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2018
Journal Colorectal Disease
Print ISSN 1462-8910
Electronic ISSN 1463-1318
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 11
Pages 970-980
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jul 11, 2018


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