Heavy physician workloads: impact on physician attitudes and outcomes

Health Serv Manage Res. 2007 Nov;20(4):261-9. doi: 10.1258/095148407782219067.


The intensity of physician workload has been increasing with the well-documented changes in the financing, organization and delivery of care. It is possible that these stressors have reached a point where they pose a serious policy issue for the entire healthcare system through their diminution of physician's ability to effectively interact with patients as they are burned out, stressed and dissatisfied. This policy question is framed in a conceptual model linking workloads with five key outcomes (patient care quality, individual performance, absenteeism, turnover and organizational performance) mediated by physician stress and satisfaction. This model showed a good fit to the data in a structural equation analysis. Ten of the 12 hypothesized pathways between variables were significant and supported the mediating role of stress and satisfaction. These results suggest that workloads, stress and satisfaction have significant and material impacts on patient care quality, individual performance, absenteeism, turnover and organizational performance. Implications of these results and directions for future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Efficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personnel Turnover
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workload / psychology*