Mental well-being and job satisfaction among general practitioners: a nationwide cross-sectional survey in Denmark

BMC Fam Pract. 2018 Jul 28;19(1):130. doi: 10.1186/s12875-018-0809-3.


Background: Poor mental well-being and low job satisfaction among physicians can have significant negative implications for the physicians and their patients and may also reduce the cost efficiency in health care. Mental distress is increasingly common in physicians, including general practitioners (GPs). This study aimed to examine mental well-being and job satisfaction among Danish GPs and potential associations with age, gender and practice organisation.

Methods: Data was collected in a nationwide questionnaire survey among Danish GPs in 2016. Register data on GPs and their patient populations was used to explore differences between respondents and non-respondents. Associations were estimated using multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: Of 3350 eligible GPs, 1697 (50.7%) responded. Lower response rate was associated with increasing numbers of comorbid, aging or deprived patients. About half of participating GPs presented with at least one burnout symptom; 30.6% had high emotional exhaustion, 21.0% high depersonalisation and 36.6% low personal accomplishment. About a quarter (26.2%) experienced more than one of these symptoms, and 10.4% experienced all of them. Poor work-life balance was reported by 16.2%, low job satisfaction by 22.1%, high perceived stress by 20.6% and poor general well-being by 18.6%. Constructs were overlapping; 8.4% had poor overall mental health, which was characterized by poor general well-being, high stress and ≥ 2 burnout symptoms. In contrast, 24.6% had no burnout symptoms and reported high levels of general well-being and job satisfaction. Male GPs more often than female GPs reported low job satisfaction, depersonalisation, complete burnout and poor overall mental health. Middle-aged (46-59 years) GPs had higher risk of low job satisfaction, burnout and suboptimal self-rated health than GPs in other age groups. GPs in solo practices more often assessed the work-life balance as poor than GPs in group practices.

Conclusion: The prevalence of poor mental well-being and low job satisfaction was generally high, particularly among mid-career GPs and male GPs. Approximately 8% was substantially distressed, and approximately 25% reported positive mental well-being and job satisfaction, which shows huge variation in the mental well-being among Danish GPs. The results call for targeted interventions to improve mental well-being and job satisfaction among GPs.

Keywords: Burnout; Denmark; General practitioner; Job satisfaction; Mental health; Primary care; Work-life balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Stress / epidemiology
  • Occupational Stress / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work-Life Balance