Predictors of physician career satisfaction, work-life balance, and burnout

Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Apr;109(4):949-55. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000258299.45979.37.


Objective: To explore factors associated with physician career satisfaction, work-life balance, and burnout focusing on differences across age, gender, and specialty.

Methods: A cross-sectional, mailed, self-administered survey was sent to a national sample of 2,000 randomly-selected physicians, stratified by specialty, age, and gender (response rate 48%). Main outcome measures included career satisfaction, burnout, and work-life balance. Scales ranged from 1 to 100.

Results: Both women and men report being highly satisfied with their careers (79% compared with 76%, P<.01), having moderate levels of satisfaction with work-life balance (48% compared with 49%, P=.24), and having moderate levels of emotional resilience (51% compared with 53%, P=.09). Measures of burnout strongly predicted career satisfaction (standardized beta 0.36-0.60, P<.001). The strongest predictor of work-life balance and burnout was having some control over schedule and hours worked (standardized beta 0.28, P<.001, and 0.20-0.32, P<.001, respectively). Physician gender, age, and specialty were not strong independent predictors of career satisfaction, work-life balance, or burnout.

Conclusion: This national physician survey suggests that physicians can struggle with work-life balance yet remain highly satisfied with their career. Burnout is an important predictor of career satisfaction, and control over schedule and work hours are the most important predictors of work-life balance and burnout.

Level of evidence: II.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Gynecology*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetrics*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • United States
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / psychology*