Physician satisfaction and practice intentions in Northwestern Ontario

Can J Rural Med. 2008 Summer;13(3):129-35.


Objective: The goal of this research was to understand factors that affect future practice intentions of physicians who practise in rural and underserviced areas. The following 2 research questions are answered: "How many physicians in Northwestern Ontario intend to leave their practice in 5 years?" and "What is the association between professional, personal/family and community factors in physician satisfaction and intention to stay in practice?"

Methods: Between September and October 2004, physicians practising in Northwestern Ontario were mailed a survey measuring professional, personal/family and community satisfaction as well as future practice intentions. Future practice intention (question 1) was analyzed through a frequency distribution, while the factors that influenced intention (question 2) were analyzed using a 3-step process: a factor analysis, the creation of scales and a logistic regression. The themes of the scales emerging from the factor analysis were family/community, time, professional support and efficacy, and sense of belonging and appreciation. The means of these 4 scales were entered into a logistic regression model along with demographic variables that were independent predictors of future practice intention.

Results: Three hundred and twenty-eight physicians were sent the survey. After 3 consecutive mailings, the response rate was 61.3% (n=201). Over two-thirds of Northwestern Ontario physicians intended to remain in practice in 5 years; however, most of these physicians were from Thunder Bay, the only city (100 000+ population) in Northwestern Ontario. Physicians were significantly more likely to intend to stay in practice if they were younger, practised in Thunder Bay and scored higher on the family/community scale.

Conclusion: These findings underscore the importance of addressing family and community factors, as opposed to strictly professional factors, in future retention initiatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Family Practice* / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Personnel Turnover / economics
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Workforce