Medical students (n=154) and general and child and adolescent psychiatry residents (n=111) took part in the study. The medical schools at University of Alabama-Birmingham (n=100), the University of Miami (n=93), Emory University (n=51), and the Medical College of Georgia (n=21) participated for a total of 265 participants. Subjects were asked to anonymously complete a questionnaire and had the option to refuse to participate. This study was approved by the human subjects review board at each institution.
The questionnaire was divided into several sections: sociodemographic items, experiences related to child psychiatry, professional career preferences, personality attributes, social interests, and perceived life style elements of importance. Sociodemographic items included gender, ethnicity, citizenship and marital status, medical school attended, and educational indebtedness. Child psychiatry experiences included questions about seminars, inpatient, outpatient, consultation-liaison, clinical rotations, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, crisis, substance abuse, mentorship, and time spent with faculty. Professional career preferences included ranked interests in pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, and neurology and their ranked areas of interest, such as research, teaching, school consultation, independent practice, clinical practice at an inpatient or outpatient facility, and administration. Personality attributes consisted of being socially related, logical, assertive, genuine, empathic, having an expressive personality, warmth, self-directedness, cognitive flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, perfectionism, being introverted, and being extroverted. Social interest statements included cooking, shopping, surfing the Internet, playing video games, reading, enjoying sports, outdoor activities, theater, indoor activities, TV/movies, music, and arts/crafts. The importance of life style elements were job opportunities, earning potential, quality of life, intellectual interests, stress, status among faculty/house staff, status in society, social systems approach, satisfaction working with psychiatric patients, developmental perspectives, and opportunities for research.
Data were analyzed using SPSS 15.0 (2005, Chicago). Frequency and descriptive statistics were calculated to check all relevant characteristics of the data. As all items of interest were categorical, comparisons were tested with chi square. Comparisons were first made between general psychiatry residents and child and adolescent psychiatry residents. No significant differences between the two groups of residents were found, so all residents were collapsed into one group for analysis purposes. Thus, all psychiatric residents were compared to medical students on common questionnaire items.