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Predictors of Physician Career Satisfaction, Work–Life Balance, and Burnout

Keeton, Kristie MD, MPH1; Fenner, Dee E. MD1; Johnson, Timothy R. B. MD1; Hayward, Rodney A. MD2

doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000258299.45979.37
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To explore factors associated with physician career satisfaction, work–life balance, and burnout focusing on differences across age, gender, and specialty.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, mailed, self-administered survey was sent to a national sample of 2,000 randomly-selected physicians, stratified by specialty, age, and gender (response rate 48%). Main outcome measures included career satisfaction, burnout, and work–life balance. Scales ranged from 1 to 100.

RESULTS: Both women and men report being highly satisfied with their careers (79% compared with 76%, P<.01), having moderate levels of satisfaction with work–life balance (48% compared with 49%, P=.24), and having moderate levels of emotional resilience (51% compared with 53%, P=.09). Measures of burnout strongly predicted career satisfaction (standardized β 0.36–0.60, P<.001). The strongest predictor of work–life balance and burnout was having some control over schedule and hours worked (standardized β 0.28, P<.001, and 0.20–0.32, P<.001, respectively). Physician gender, age, and specialty were not strong independent predictors of career satisfaction, work–life balance, or burnout.

CONCLUSION: This national physician survey suggests that physicians can struggle with work–life balance yet remain highly satisfied with their career. Burnout is an important predictor of career satisfaction, and control over schedule and work hours are the most important predictors of work–life balance and burnout.


Control over schedule and work hours is the most important predictor of physician work–life balance and burnout.

From the 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; and 2Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System; the Michigan Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and the Departments of Internal Medicine and Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Corresponding author: Kristie Keeton, MD, MPH, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, F4835 Mott Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-0264; e-mail:

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (DK20572-21), Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research (DIB 98-001), and Development Service and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (P60 DK-20572). None of the above sponsors were directly involved in the design or conduct of this research or in the drafting or review of the manuscript, and therefore this work represents the research and views of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views or positions of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, or National Institutes of Health.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey was modified and reproduced by special permission of the Publisher, CPP, Inc., Mountain View, CA 94043 from Maslach Burnout Inventory-HSS by Christina Maslach and Susan E. Jackson. Copyright 1986 by CPP, Inc. All rights reserved. Further reproduction is prohibited without the Publisher’s written consent.

© 2007 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.