Occupational stress and job satisfaction among physicians: sex differences

Soc Sci Med. 1991;33(10):1179-87. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(91)90234-4.


The present study provides empirical findings from a national survey of physicians and addresses issues of sex differences in the nature of occupational stress experienced by physicians, and the sources of satisfaction in medical practice. Data were collected using questionnaires from 2584 physicians. The sample was randomly selected to represent physicians in all Canadian provinces. About 10% of the respondents were female. Measures included self-reports of stress and satisfaction, demographic variables, practice characteristics, and attitudes about health care. Major sources of stress indicated by female and male physicians were time pressures on the job, and major sources of satisfaction were relationships with patients and colleagues. Sex differences were found in terms of the specific variables that predicted job stress and satisfaction. However, for both women and men, various work setting variables positively predicted occupational stress and negatively predicted job satisfaction. Significant sex differences were present in both demographic and situational variables as well as measures of occupational stress and attitudes about health care. Correlations indicate that for both female and male physicians, high levels of occupational stress was associated with less satisfaction with medical practice and more negative attitudes about the medicare system and health care in general, and high job satisfaction was related to fewer specific work stressors and more positive attitudes about health care. Several methodological limitations necessitates caution in interpreting the findings. Nevertheless, the results may have some implications for future health care policies and procedures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Workload