The authors present a review of Scandinavian and English literature on physicians' health and well-being. A simple model with three groups of effect variables (health, well-being and job satisfaction) and 16 groups of possible affect variables (gender, age, personality, family background, childhood conditions, student years, house officer period, working conditions, specialty, conditions and attitudes in society, patients, colleagues, lifestyle, living conditions, social network and family) are used as a framework for the review. Suicide mortality is higher among physicians than in other occupations. Female and young physicians seem to be most at risk of experiencing stress and psychosocial problems. There may be an inherent personality incongruence between the ideal doctor and the good spouse and parent. Having an "instrumental" specialty and working style, and not having to cope with too much professional uncertainty, seem to protect against stress and burnout. The review shows that greater consideration should be given to factors like these when carrying out a comprehensive study of physicians' health, well-being and job satisfaction. The forthcoming survey of Norwegian physicians' health, well-being and job satisfaction (Legekårsundersøkelsen) will include all the areas reviewed.