Background and objectives: Work-related stress and burnout among physicians are of increasing relevance. The aim of this study was to investigate work-related behavior and experience patterns and predictors of mental health of physicians working in medical practice in Germany.
Methods: We surveyed a stratified, random sample of 900 physicians from different specialties. The questionnaire included the standardized instruments Work-related Behavior and Experience Pattern (AVEM) and the Short Form-12 Health Survey (SF-12).
Results: Only one third of physicians reported high or very high general satisfaction with their job, but 64% would choose to study medicine again. Only 18% of physicians presented a healthy behavior and experience pattern. Almost 40% presented a pattern of reduced motivation to work, 21% were at risk of overexertion, and 22% at risk for burnout. Willingness to study medicine again, fulfilled job expectations, professional years, marital status, and behavior patterns were significant predictors of mental health and accounted for 35.6% of the variance in mental health scores. Job-related perceptions also had a significant effect on burnout.
Conclusions: The strong influence of work-related perceptions suggests a need for realistic expectation management in medical education, as well as support in stress management and coping strategies during medical training.