Objective: To investigate the role of job demands and job control as predictors of job satisfaction in general practice.
Design and setting: A descriptive postal survey of general practitioners in Victoria selected at random from the Health Insurance Commission's database.
Participants: 353 of 562 GPs (63%) participated in the study. The demographic details of the respondents were similar to those for all GPs in Victoria.
Main outcome measures: Job demands of general practice; job control in general practice; job satisfaction in general practice; effect of demands and control on job satisfaction; interactive effect of demands and control on job satisfaction.
Results: The "average" GP in this study perceived their work as characterised by high demands and low control. In addition, only 50% of respondents were satisfied with their work. The major determinants of job satisfaction were gender, job demands, hours worked and job control. Of these, job control was the most powerful predictor of job satisfaction. Although no evidence was found for a modifying effect of control on the relationship between demands and satisfaction, an interaction between hours worked and control was evident.
Conclusions: The low level of job satisfaction in general practice is, to a degree, a reflection of the beliefs held by the "average" GP that their ability to control their work is low. As GPs who are satisfied with their work provide a higher standard of medical care, policymakers should consider the importance of maintaining professional autonomy for GPs when implementing changes aimed at achieving policy objectives.