Profiling health professionals' personality traits, behaviour styles and emotional intelligence: a systematic review

C Louwen*, D Reidlinger*, N Milne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Non-cognitive traits have been theorised to predict characteristics, career choice and outcomes of health professionals and could represent a homogenous group. This study aims to profile and compare personality traits, behaviour styles and emotional intelligence of health practitioners across a variety of professions.

METHODS: Empirical literature was systematically reviewed. A two-concept search strategy was applied to four databases (CINAHL, PubMed, Embase, ProQuest). Title/abstract and full text articles were screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria. Methodological quality was assessed using Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Data was synthesised narratively and meta-aggregated where feasible.

RESULTS: Three hundred twenty-one studies representing 153 assessment tools of personality (n = 83 studies), behaviour (n = 8), and emotional intelligence (n = 62) were included. Most studies (n = 171) explored personality (medicine, nursing, nursing assistants, dentistry, allied health, paramedics), revealing variation in traits across professions. Behaviour styles were least measured with only ten studies exploring these across four health professions (nursing, medicine, occupational therapy, psychology). Emotional intelligence (n = 146 studies) varied amongst professions (medicine, nursing, dentistry, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiology) with all exhibiting average to above-average scores.

CONCLUSION: Personality traits, behaviour styles and emotional intelligence are all key characteristics of health professionals reported in the literature. There is both heterogeneity and homogeneity within and between professional groups. The characterisation and understanding of these non-cognitive traits will aid health professionals to understand their own non-cognitive features and how these might be useful in predicting performance with potential to adapt these to enhance success within their chosen profession.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120
Pages (from-to)1-56
Number of pages56
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2023


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