Introduction: Despite its prominence in psychology, little is known about how personality traits play a role in the stress experiences of surrogate decision-makers. We tested the hypothesis that intrinsic traits (personality and decision-making styles) would be related to surrogates’ stress in order to learn whether screening or tailoring interventions based on personality traits could help support surrogate decision-makers. Methods: This pre-specified secondary analysis evaluated data from an interventional study with dyads of patients with advanced chronic illness and their spokespersons. Measures included stress after decision-making or patient death (Impact of Events-Revised), personality (Big Five Index; BFI) and decision-making style (maximization and regret scales). Multivariate linear regressions explored the impact of personality on the stress experience; linear regressions independently modeled the impact of maximization and regret on the stress experience. Results: Of 38 spokespersons, 89.5% were women, 97.4% non-Hispanic, and 29.0% had a college degree or higher. In univariate analyses, total stress was correlated with neuroticism (r =.56, P <.01), higher scores on the regret (r =.55, P <.01) and maximization (r =.48, P <.05). In adjusted models, BFI was significantly associated with total stress (R2 = 27.08, P =.02). However, only neuroticism was independently associated with total stress. Conclusions: Personality traits, particularly neuroticism, and decision-making styles predicted heightened stress in spokespersons of patients with advanced chronic illness. If ACP interventions are intended to reduce spokesperson stress, personality and decision-making style scales may help identify spokespersons most likely to benefit from ACP interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-703
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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