Physician health, stress and gender at a university hospital

J Psychosom Res. 2003 Feb;54(2):171-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00484-1.


Objective: To determine personal and work related factors contributing to physician health and stress in men and women physicians in a university hospital.

Method: Mail survey of 161 hospital-based Canadian academic physicians (51 women, 110 men).

Results: Women compared to men, physicians were younger (M = 43 years, S.D. = 7.4 vs. M = 48 years, S.D. = 8.64; P = .001) and fewer had spouses (76% vs. 90%; P = .01) and children (76% vs. 91%; P = .02). A five-item scale measured somatic symptoms, the dependent variable. Among physicians of both gender, the somatic symptoms scale was significantly correlated with satisfaction with amount of time spent working and scales of mental health (five items), work satisfaction (five items), workload (five items), healthy lifestyle (five items), coping abilities (three items) and support-in-stress (two items). On stepwise regression analysis, for women physicians, 70% of the variance in somatic symptoms was explained by support from colleagues when stressed, and workload. For men, 42% of the variance was explained by healthy lifestyle, mental health, support from colleagues when stressed, and workload. Regardless of gender, the majority of physicians reported an excessive workload but the sources of support when stressed varied by gender.

Conclusion: Different strategies are needed for women and men physicians to reduce their stress levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Status*
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology*
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Spouses
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Workload