Purpose: This study examined the status of health-related behavior and experience patterns of entrepreneurs in comparison with teachers and physicians to identify specific health risks and resources.
Methods: Entrepreneurs (n = 632), teachers (n = 5,196), and physicians (n = 549) were surveyed in a cross-sectional design. The questionnaire Work-related Behavior and Experience Patterns (AVEM) was used for all professions and, in addition, two scales (health prevention and self-confidence) from the Checklist for Entrepreneurs in the sample of entrepreneurs.
Results: The largest proportion of the entrepreneurs (45%) presented with a healthy pattern (compared with 18.4% teachers and 18.3% physicians). Thirty-eight percent of entrepreneurs showed a risk pattern of overexertion and stress, followed by teachers (28.9%) and physicians (20.6%). Unambitious or burnout patterns were seen in only 9.3/8.2% of entrepreneurs, respectively, and 25.3/27.3% of teachers, and 39.6/21.5% of physicians. While the distribution of patterns in teachers and physicians differed significantly between genders, a gender difference was not found among entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs with the risk pattern of overexertion scored significantly (P < 0.01) lower in self-confidence and health care than those with the healthy pattern.
Conclusions: The development of a successful enterprise depends, in part, on the health of the entrepreneur. The large proportion of entrepreneurs with the healthy pattern irrespective of gender may support the notion that self-selection effects of healthy individuals in this special career might be important. At the same time, a large proportion was at risk for overexertion and might benefit from measures to cope with professional demands and stress and promote a healthy behavior pattern.