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Are doctors risk takers?

Authors Pikkel D, Pikkel Igal YS, Sharabi-Nov A, Pikkel J

Received 9 September 2015

Accepted for publication 29 January 2016

Published 17 June 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 129—133

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S96005

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Mary Schmeida

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Frank Papatheofanis

Dvora Pikkel,1 Yael Sara Pikkel Igal,2 Adi Sharabi-Nov,3,4 Joseph Pikkel2,5

1Risk Management and Patient Safety Unit, Assuta Medical Center, Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv, 2Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, 3Research Wing, Ziv Medical Center, Safed, 4Tel-Hai Academic College, Upper Galilee, 5Department of Ophthalmology, Ziv Medical Center, Safed, Israel

Objective: Risk taking affects human behavior in general and decisions in medicine in particular. We used game theory to assess physicians' risk-taking tendencies.
Methods: Physicians were recruited to the study by advertisement. It was explained that they would receive a sum of money for correct prediction of the flipping of a coin. They could try to sell their opportunity to flip the coin for an amount of money they determined. The sum offered by the participants was considered an indicator of risk taking. A demographic questionnaire assessed age, sex, seniority, and area of specialization of the participants. A multivariate analysis assessed associations between risk-taking behavior and, seniority, and specialization.
Results: Sixty-two physicians participated, 36 males and 26 females, seniority 1–34 years. Of a possible range of 0–10, the mean score for risk taking was 5.5 – just slightly more than indifference. Negative correlations were found between risk taking and seniority, and between risk taking and age (β=–0.45, P<0.001 for both). Surgeons and anesthesiologists showed greater risk taking than did other physicians (β=0.69, P<0.05); and females less than males, though the latter correlation was not statistically significant.
Conclusion: Understanding the tendency of physicians to risk taking may elucidate their decision-making processes and contribute to understanding of causes of adverse events and to the education of physicians.

Keywords: risk taking, game theory, seniority, surgeons, anesthesiologists

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