Objective: Our goal was to characterize how family physicians perceive recent changes in the health care system and how content they are with various factors.
Study design: We performed a cross-sectional mailed survey.
Population: The survey was completed by a random sample of 361 family physicians practicing in the United States.
Outcome measures: The survey evaluated attitudes about corporate managed care, health care reform, career satisfaction, compensation, personal life satisfaction, workload stress, personal well-being, and residency training. We reported percentages for Likert-rated survey items, factor analysis of the survey, and a regression model for statistical prediction of the 4 major factors.
Results: Relative to survey data gathered in 1996, fewer family physicians in our survey reported that they were satisfied with their careers (59% vs 82%); fewer were satisfied with their compensation (55% vs 65%); and fewer would again choose family practice as their specialty (66% vs 75%). Thirty-one percent worried that they were "burning out" as physicians, and 48% reported that they had experienced more stress-related symptoms in the past year. Only 7% agreed that corporate managed care is the best way to provide the health care America needs at a cost society can afford, but only 36% unequivocally endorsed the concept of a national health plan. Forty-two percent of the respondents reported that they had witnessed bad patient outcomes they perceived to be attributable to managed care business processes.
Conclusions: The morale and career satisfaction of family physicians seems to have eroded in recent years, and discontent is common. As a group, family physicians are unhappy with the current health care system and quite unified about certain specific reforms, yet they are far from such consensus about more sweeping reform.