Background: Past research looking at eating disorders and perfectionism has shown a strong relationship. Recent literature looking at the relationship between perfectionism and medical students has not been as evident. But studies looking at eating disorders and medical students have found that on average medical students exhibit more disordered eating attitudes. Aims: The main objective of this study was to investigate the relationships between perfectionism, eating disorders, and career choices in medical students. Methods: The EAT-26, Multidimensional Perfectionism scale, and specialty interest survey were given to 140 1st and 2nd year medical students (of whom 96 returned questionnaires, a 68% completion rate) at the University of New Mexico School of medicine. Results: Of the 96 we found 25% of medical students exhibited disordered eating attitudes and/or symptoms by endorsing one of the four critical behavioral questions (N=15) or having an elevated raw score (N=9). Only approximately 50% of students noted their gender on the questionnaires. Among these we found a non-significant trend for females to have higher EAT scores than men. When compared to a previously reported undergraduate population, medical students had elevated levels of perfectionism on two of the three perfectionism subscales, specifically; self oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism. Finally, in the population we did not find any associations between career choices (primary care vs. technical specialty) and perfectionism scores. Conclusions and significance: We can conclude that medical students on average exhibit higher disordered eating attitudes and/ or symptoms. This is consistent with other studies that have shown the same relationship. Additionally, medical students do exhibit higher levels of perfectionism than undergraduates. This is especially true for perfectionism that is related to demanding strict self-standards and expectations and/or pleasing others. But it does not appear that perfectionistic medical students are more likely to enter a technical specialty. Finally, medical students that exhibit disordered eating attitudes do not exhibit more perfectionistic traits.
Trujillo, Lucianna and Joel Yager. "Eating attitudes, personality, and career choice in medical students." (2008). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ume-research-papers/41