Sex differences in physician burnout in the United States and The Netherlands

J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). Fall 2002;57(4):191-3.


Objective: to determine if there are sex differences in physician burnout in the Netherlands and, if not, to explore why they are present in the United States.

Methods: Separate physician surveys were conducted in the United States (n=2326) and the Netherlands (n=1426). Thirty-three percent of US respondents were female (adjusted response rate 52%); 18% of Dutch respondents were female (adjusted response rate 63%). Standardized mean sex differences (effect sizes) in burnout variables were calculated and compared crossnationally.

Results: US women experienced more burnout than US men did (28% v 21%, p<.01), but the sex difference in burnout among Dutch physicians was not significant. Women in both countries worked fewer hours than men did (48 v 56 US, 44 v 56 NL, difference in effect sizes of sex differences between US and NL, p<.001). Although women in both countries described less work control than men, the effect size of the sex difference in the United States was more than twice that in the Netherlands (.34 US v .15 NL, p<.01). Children, home support, and work-home interference were comparable between sexes in the United States.

Conclusions: Gender parity in physician burnout in the Netherlands may be due to fewer work hours and greater work control of women compared to those in the United States.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Efficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Women / trends
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Work