Importance: Poor work-life integration (WLI) occurs when career and personal responsibilities come in conflict and may contribute to the ongoing high rates of physician burnout. The characteristics associated with WLI are poorly understood.
Objective: To identify personal and professional factors associated with WLI in physicians and identify factors that modify the association between gender and WLI.
Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study was based on electronic and paper surveys administered October 2017 to March 2018 at private, academic, military, and veteran's practices across the US. It used a population-based sample of US physicians across all medical specialties. Data analysis was performed from November 2019 to July 2020.
Main outcomes and measures: WLI was assessed using an 8-item scale (0-100 point scale, with higher scores indicating favorable WLI), alongside personal and professional factors. Multivariable linear regressions evaluated independent associations with WLI as well as factors that modify the association between gender and WLI.
Results: Of 5197 physicians completing surveys, 4370 provided complete responses. Of the physicians who provided complete responses, 2719 were men, 3491 were White/Caucasian (80.8%), 3560 were married (82.4%), and the mean (SD) age was 52.3 (12.0) years. The mean (SD) WLI score was 55 (23). Women reported lower (worse) mean (SD) WLI scores than men overall (52  vs 57 ; mean difference, -5 [-0.2 SDs]; P < .001). In multivariable regression, lower WLI was independently associated with being a woman (linear regression coefficient, -6; SE, 0.7; P < .001) as well as being aged 35 years or older (eg, aged 35 to 44 years: linear regression coefficient, -7; SE, 1.4; P < .001), single (linear regression coefficient, -3 vs married; SE, 1.1; P = .003), working more hours (eg, 50 to 59 hours per week vs less than 40 hours per week: linear regression coefficient, -9; SE, 1.0; P < .001) and call nights (linear regression coefficient, -1 for each call night per week; SE, 0.2; P < .001), and being in emergency medicine (linear regression coefficient, -18; SE, 1.6, P < .001), urology (linear regression coefficient, -11; SE, 4.0; P = .009), general surgery (linear regression coefficient, -4; SE, 2.0; P = .04), anesthesiology (linear regression coefficient, -4; SE, 1.7; P = .03), or family medicine (linear regression coefficient, -3; SE, 1.4; P = .04) (reference category, internal medicine subspecialties). In interaction modeling, physician age, youngest child's age, and hours worked per week modified the associations between gender and WLI, such that the largest gender disparities were observed in physicians who were aged 45 to 54 years (estimated WLI score for women, 49; 95% CI, 47-51; estimated WLI score for men, 57, 95% CI, 55-59; P < .001), had youngest child aged 23 years or older (estimated WLI score for women, 51; 95% CI, 48-54; estimated WLI score for men, 60; 95% CI, 58-62; P < .001), and were working less than 40 hours per week (estimated WLI score for women, 61; 95% CI, 59-63; estimated WLI score for men; 70; 95% CI, 68-72; P < .001).
Conclusions and relevance: This study found that lower WLI was reported by physicians who are women, single, aged 35 years or older, and who work more hours and call nights. These findings suggest that systemic change is needed to improve WLI among physicians.