Personality traits and traumatic outcome symptoms in registered nurses in the aftermath of a patient safety incident

Mady C. Stovall, Jenny Firkins, Lissi Hansen, Nathan F. Dieckmann, Michelle Van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between personality traits (perfectionism and neuroticism) and the traumatic outcomes of reexperiencing, avoidance, and alcohol abuse severity of registered nurses (RNs) who have been involved with a patient safety incident (PSI). We hypothesized that higher scores for perfectionism and neuroticism would predict higher reexperiencing and avoidance symptoms in RNs in the aftermath of a PSI. Also, RNs with higher perfectionism and neuroticism sum scores would be more likely to abuse alcohol. Methods: A descriptive, correlational study design was used to characterize the relationships of personality traits and potential traumatic outcomes of RNs in the aftermath of a PSI. The Almost Perfect Scale-Revised,Neuroticism Scale, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumptionmeasureswere administered to RNs licensed in Oregon and New York. Results: Perfectionist-discrepancy personality traits (P < 0.01) were the strongest predictors for reexperiencing symptoms and neuroticism (P < 0.05) was the strongest predictor for avoidance symptoms, when controlling for sociodemographics and experience.We found a negative linear relationship between perfectionism-order and alcohol abuse severity (β = -0.15, P < 0.01; confidence interval, -0.24 to 0.05). Conclusions: This study demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between perfectionism-discrepancy and reexperiencing as well as between neuroticism and reexperiencing and avoidance, each explaining 4% of variance of their model. The results add to the nurse second victim literature by validating 2 posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in RNs in the aftermath of a PSI. Registered nurses with perfectionism-order were less likely to abuse alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1652-E1659
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Moral injury
  • Neuroticism
  • Nurse second victim
  • Patient safety
  • Perfectionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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