Self-reported health, illness, and self-care among finnish physicians: a national survey

Arch Fam Med. Nov-Dec 2000;9(10):1079-85. doi: 10.1001/archfami.9.10.1079.


Background: Physicians' health problems have been discussed mainly in relation to substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. In this study, the prevalence of common chronic diseases and their treatment were determined.

Objective: To find differences in self-reported health status, amount of sick leave, and the use of health services among physicians according to sex and specialty. Data were also compared with those of the total employed population.

Design and setting: Cross-sectional postal questionnaire survey in Finland.

Participants and methods: A random sample of licensed physicians younger than 66 years (n = 4477) was randomly selected from the register of the Finnish Medical Association. A total of 3313 physicians (74%) responded.

Main outcome measures: Perceived health, prevalence of diseases, self-treatment of diseases, amount of sick leave, and medical consultations.

Results: Female physicians assessed their health as being better than other female employees and had used health services and had been on sick leave more often than their male colleagues. Male physicians assessed their health as being equal to that of other men. Both female and male physicians had fewer sick leave than other employees. However, physicians-especially men-reported many common chronic illnesses as often or more often than other employees. Physicians had consulted other medical professionals less often than other employees, and they primarily self-treated their illnesses. Of the specialties, psychiatrists had used health services and had been on sick leave more often than other physicians.

Conclusion: This study indicates that the usual form of care of physicians' diseases is self-treatment and "working through" illnesses. Arch Fam Med. 2000;9:1079-1085

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity*
  • Physicians* / psychology
  • Physicians* / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Care*
  • Sick Leave