Factors influencing early retirement intentions in Australian rural general practitioners

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Jun;64(4):297-304. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu028. Epub 2014 May 3.


Background: The Australian general practice workforce is ageing. This and a trend towards higher exit intentions and earlier retirement make it increasingly important to identify those work and personal factors affecting intention to leave, which are amenable to change.

Aims: To assess the various work, occupational and individual health factors associated with early retirement intentions among Australian rural general practitioners (GPs) that may be amenable to intervention.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of GPs practising in rural Australia. Odds ratios of early retirement intentions across work, occupational and individual health factors were calculated.

Results: There were 92 participants (response rate 56%), and 47% of responders intended to retire before 65. GPs with medium to high burnout levels had higher odds of intending to retire. Increased job satisfaction and work ability scores were associated with decreased retirement intentions, whereas increased physical and mental work ability demands were associated with an increase in retirement intentions. Absenteeism was not related to retirement intentions but presenteeism was. GPs reporting any work-related sleep problems were found to have a 3-fold increase in the odds of early retirement intentions. The odds of early retirement intentions also increased with higher psychological distress, worsening general health and longer working hours.

Conclusions: From a health policy reform perspective, the greatest impact on reducing early retirement intentions among ageing GPs could potentially be made by intervening in areas of working hours, burnout and work-related sleep issues, followed by job satisfaction, psychological distress, health, general workability and mental and physical work ability.

Keywords: Absenteeism; burnout; early retirement; general practitioners; health professionals; occupational health; presenteeism; psychological distress; retention; rural; work ability..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • General Practitioners / psychology
  • Health
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retirement*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Workload*