Job stress and job satisfaction of physicians in private practice: comparison of German and Norwegian physicians

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2012 Oct;85(7):819-28. doi: 10.1007/s00420-011-0725-5. Epub 2011 Dec 11.


Purpose: This study examined job satisfaction and job stress of German compared to Norwegian physicians in private practice.

Methods: A representative sample of physicians in private practice of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (N = 414) and a nationwide sample of Norwegian general practitioners and private practice specialists (N = 340) were surveyed in a cross-sectional design in 2010. The questionnaire comprised the standard instruments "Job Satisfaction Scale (JSS)" and a short form of the "Effort-Reward Imbalance Questionnaire (ERI)".

Results: Norwegian physicians scored significantly higher (<0.01) on all items of the job satisfaction scale compared to German physicians (M 5.57, SD 0.74 vs. M 4.78, SD 1.01). The effect size was highest for the items freedom to choose method (d = 1.012), rate of pay (d = 0.941), and overall job satisfaction (d = 0.931). While there was no significant difference in the mean of the overall effort scale between German and Norwegian physicians, Norwegian physicians scored significantly higher (p < 0.01) on the reward scale. A larger proportion of German physicians (27.6%) presented with an effort/reward ratio beyond 1.0, indicating a risky level of work-related stress, compared to only 10.3% of Norwegian physicians. Working hours, effort, reward, and country differences accounted for 37.4% of the explained variance of job satisfaction.

Conclusions: Job satisfaction and reward were significantly higher in Norwegian than in German physicians. An almost threefold higher proportion of German physicians exhibited a high level of work-related stress. Findings call for active prevention and health promotion among stressed practicing physicians, with a special focus on improved working conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Private Practice*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Work / psychology*