Association between dietitians' personality profiles and practice areas

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Ball, Lauren
Eley, Diann S
Desbrow, Ben
Lee, Patricia
Ferguson, Maree
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Aim: Personality traits refer to habitual patterns of behaviour, thoughts and emotions, and have been shown to influence health professionals' career pathways. The present study explored the associations between dietitians' personality profiles and the areas of dietetic practice they have previously worked. Methods: Survey of 346 dietitians; 95% female; aged 32 ± 10 years; median 7 years (range 0–35) since graduation. Personality traits were investigated using the Temperament and Character Inventory, and cluster analysis was used to group participants into three clusters, known as Profiles, based upon common combinations of personality trait levels. Relationships between personality clusters and areas of dietetic practice were investigated using univariate and multivariate analyses. Results: Compared with other participants, dietitians in Profile A displayed moderate levels of Harm Avoidance, Persistence and Self-Directedness; dietitians in Profile B displayed higher levels of Persistence and Self-Directedness, and lower levels of Harm Avoidance; and dietitians in Profile C displayed higher levels of Harm Avoidance and lower levels of Persistence and Self-Directedness. Dietitians in Profile A were twice as likely to have worked in Private Practice/Consultancy compared with Profile C (OR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.07–3.38, P < 0.05), and dietitians in Profile B were over four times more likely to have worked in Food Service Management compared with Profile C (OR = 4.35, 95% CI: 1.47–12.84, P < 0.01). Conclusions: Dietitians' personality may influence their decision to work in some areas of dietetic practice. Employees and employers should be mindful of personal traits when making employment decisions because some environments may be more conducive to specific attributes of dietitians to facilitate competent performance in a role.

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Nutrition & Dietetics

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© 2016 Dietitians Association of Australia. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Association between dietitians' personality profiles and practice areas, Nutrition & Dietetics, Vol. 73 (3), pp. 247-253, 2016which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (

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Nutrition and dietetics

Nutrition and dietetics not elsewhere classified

Health services and systems

Public health

Food sciences

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