How Understanding Personality Types Can Help Nurses Improve Patient Care


In a previous edition of U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, it was reported that the people in the United States experience the worst health outcomes overall compared to any other high-income nation. Statistics from a survey conducted by Accenture indicate that at least two-thirds of healthcare consumers have had a negative experience with a provider.

These reports show that the state of healthcare in the country is in a dire situation, that is just getting worse. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted every industry, but especially the healthcare industry in the United States, leading to worse patient outcomes, understaffed medical facilities, as well as other challenges.

Nurses specifically have had it tough the past few years, especially due to the stress of the pandemic. While there are many changes and strategies being discussed to improve the healthcare industry in the United States on a systematic level—there are still ways nurses can improve patient care at a personal level.

Whether you’ve just started your nursing career, been in the industry for years, or studying an MSN FNP program online—understanding personality types and how they can help you support patients is an essential skill.


What are personality types?

Personality types are a system used to categorize people and better understand them. A person’s personality type is typically determined through a test or series of questions, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

For example, with the Myers-Brigg test, you’ll be placed into one of sixteen personality types. Each personality type features different traits and can help you assess your own strengths/weaknesses. 

It’s common for workplaces to use personality tests to better understand their employees or clients. With that being said, it is also important to understand personality tests aren’t an accurate judgment of character, with the efficacy of, for instance, the Myers-Brigg test being challenged.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the world’s most well-known and popular personality assessment. This test was created using knowledge based off of Jung’s theory of psychological types, and was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs, and her daughter, Isabel Brigg Myers.

The Myers-Briggs test is a self-report questionnaire that is designed to be introspective. There are approximately 94 questions, which place you toward four different dichotomies: introverted-extroverted, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. 

Myers-Briggs can help nurses with their patient care, as understanding your personality type can improve communication skills between other clinical staff as well as the patient. If you have an understanding of your personality and the style of care you give, you can ensure that your ideas are thoroughly communicated.

Big Five Personality Traits (Five-Factor Model)

The Big Five Personality Traits is also commonly known as “The Big 5” or the “OCEAN Model”. This is because this test assesses five factors, personality traits, which are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—which come together to form the acronym, OCEAN.

Compared to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, the Big Five Personality Traits is usually reported as more accurate—however, it has different use cases. The use of the five-factor model is typically seen more in counseling or therapy, rather than in business or communication.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is a psychological test that is used to assess a person’s mental process and how they handle stress. It is one of the most commonly used psychological tests in the United States, and was made to measure a person’s psychopathology and personality traits.

This test is already used in clinical and forensic settings often, used to evaluate an individual’s mental health and identify any potential issues. While nurses wouldn’t be conducting MMPI tests, it can help them improve patient outcomes if a licensed psychotherapist or clinical psychologist conducts one. It’ll help the nurse with providing the patient with the right care and treatment. 


Improving patient care and outcomes

Nurse staffing is an important factor that influences patient care and outcomes. Various factors can impact patient care and outcomes, which is why it is critical to improve the situation for patients, nurses, and all other medical staff wherever possible. This includes ensuring nurses are well-equipped when dealing with patients, understand their personality type, and how the personality type of their patient comes into play.

The term patient outcome refers to the result an individual receives from care or treatment while in a clinical setting, such as a hospital. This outcome isn’t only just physical, it also means how the patient’s social and emotional needs are also met while being professionally cared for.

Good patient care and positive patient outcomes result in higher satisfaction and also ensure the individual receives the treatment and care they want. Poor patient outcomes can result in complaints, worsening physical and mental well-being, and also increase the chance of patient readmissions.

While understanding personality types won’t completely fix all the nursing-related issues in the healthcare industry, it’s a good start. 

Understanding personality types and patients

When it comes to understanding personality types and patients, the knowledge can help give healthcare workers a general idea of how an individual will react to others or a situation. For example, if you were to conduct a personality test on a patient, and the patient has a tendency to experience negative thoughts or emotions, the nurse or other medical staff can account for that when coming up with treatment options,

At a facility providing person-centered care, it’s important to respect and understand patients’ personalities, too. For example, using tools such as personality tests to understand a patient’s personality type can give you critical information such as their willingness to do preventative care, or likelihood of them taking medication.

However, it is important to understand there is no one-test-fits-all when it comes to personality types. The Myers-Briggs test, Big Five Personality Traits, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory all have their own strengths, weaknesses, and use cases. These three are the most popular personality tests, but there are also others, such as the Rorschach inkblot test, the 16PF Questionnaire, and the DISC assessment. 

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Jul 2, 2024 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How Understanding Personality Types Can Help Nurses Improve Patient Care

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