Stressed and overworked? A cross-sectional study of the working situation of urban and rural general practitioners in Austria in the framework of the QUALICOPC project

Croat Med J. 2015 Aug;56(4):366-74. doi: 10.3325/cmj.2015.56.366.


Aim: To assess the workload of general practitioners (GPs) in Austria, with a focus on identifying the differences between GPs working in urban and rural areas.

Methods: Within the framework of the Quality and Costs of Primary Care in Europe (QUALICOPC) study, data were collected from a stratified sample of GPs using a standardized questionnaire between November 2011 and May 2012. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results: The analysis included data from 173 GPs. GPs in rural areas reported an average of 49.3 working hours per week, plus 23.7 on-call duties per 3 months and 26.2 out-of-office care services per week. Compared to GPs working in urban areas, even in the fully adjusted regression model, rural GPs had significantly more working hours (B 7.00; P=0.002) and on-call duties (B 18.91; P<0.001). 65.8% of all GPs perceived their level of stress as high and 84.6% felt they were required to do unnecessary administrative work.

Conclusion: Our findings show a high workload among Austrian GPs, particularly those working in rural areas. Since physicians show a diminishing interest to work as GPs, there is an imperative to improve this situation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health Services*
  • Workforce
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*