PLATO Project – Surgical Personality (Carly Bissett, Susan Moug)


Contact Details for Study (permission given to post on website):
Study PI -  Miss Carly Nichola Bisset
Email -   
Twitter -   @plato_project



The Plato Project:
the influence of the surgeon’s personality on the anastomotic decision
Update July 2021


Systematic Review



  • Published protocol & final paper in BMJ Open and Behavioural Sciences
  • 6 papers included – highlighting novelty of current study
  • Higher levels of conscientiousness, openness and emotional stability in abdominal surgeons
  • Female surgeons may score more highly than male surgeons in expressed traits
  • Older surgeons may have lower levels of emotional stability and agreeableness
  • Systematic review has highlighted need for consensus usage of Five Factor Model personality assessment & specialty-specific data collection to challenge surgeon stereotype

PPI Exercise & Findings – Shared decision-making


  • Published final paper in Colorectal Disease
  • 2 part – mixed methods (online survey & focus group)
  • 303 participants (n = 7 in focus group)
  • Patients believe surgeon personality influences decision-making, particularly the response to complications
  • Net promoter score in colorectal surgery – 52.7%
  • High levels of conscientiousness and emotional stability preferable
  • Rapport essential and risk aversion preferable

Part 1
Surgeon Survey

(in progress)

  • Statistical analysis under way (estimated completion end of July)
  • 2-part survey completed by 196 surgeons from 20 countries worldwide
  • All surgeons completed DOSPERT risk taking scale, Big Five Inventory personality scale, Cognitive Reflection test (thinking style), demographics and responded to hypothetical clinical scenarios
  • Anticipated publication of results Autumn 2021

Part 2
Personality Intervention

(in progress)

  • Following the results of Part 1, our intention is to perform an intervention based upon personality trait profiling to determine changes in decision-making and mitigate unconscious bias & heuristics
  • Ethical approval submission anticipated Autumn 2021



External Funding:

  • Ileostomy Association £5789
  • Bowel and Cancer Research £5880
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow £2900 for Travelling Fellowship (agreed for postponement due to COVID-19, date remains TBC - was meant to be travelling to NYC, USA on 3rd May 2020 for 8 weeks under supervision of Dr Debby Keller, now based in Sacramento, CA, USA)



  1. A Systematic Review of the Abdominal Surgeon’s Personality: Exploring Common Traits in Western Populations. Bisset CN, McKee T, Cawley M, Tilling E, Moug SJ.
    Behavioural Sciences. 2021 Jan;11(1):2. PMID: 33375271
  2. Exploring shared decision-making from the patient’s perspective: is the personality of the surgeon important? Bisset CN, Dames N, Oliphant R, Alasadi A, Anderson D, Parson S, Cleland J, Moug SJ. Colorectal Disease 2020. PMID 32628311
  3. Systematic review protocol examining the influence of surgeon personality on peri-operative decision making in abdominal surgery. Bisset CN, McKee T, Tilling E, Cawley M, Moug SJ. BMJ Open 2020;10:e035361. PMID 32019819


Presentations & Prizes

  • Invited Plenary Speaker at 22nd Alpine Colorectal Conference, Courchevel, France (January 2022)
  • Invited Speaker – Video Presentation on “Me-search Research” for AIS Channel
  • Virtual E-Poster Presentation at the European Colorectal Congress (December 2020)
  • Invited Speaker at the ACPGBI-PLG Session on “The Surgeon Psyche & Decision-Making” – Virtual ACPGBI Conference (July 2020)
  • Best 1st Year Presentation at the University of Aberdeen Summer Postgraduate Research Meeting (June 2020)
  • 1st Prize E-Poster Presentation at the Alpine Colorectal Meeting, Switzerland (January 2020): Does personality of the colorectal surgeon influence patient care?
  • Oral Presentation at the West of Scotland Surgical Association Autumn Meeting (November 2019): Does personality of the colorectal surgeon influence patient care?
  • E-Poster Presentation at the Virtual American Society for Colon and Rectal Surgeons Annual Conference Boston 2020 (face-to-face cancelled)

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