Stress and stress-related illnesses are increasing among medical specialists. This threatens the quality of patient care. In this study we investigated (a) levels of job stress and job satisfaction among medical specialists, (b) factors contributing to stress and satisfaction and (c) the effect of stress and satisfaction on burnout.
A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 2400 Dutch medical specialists. Measures included job stress, job satisfaction, burnout, personal characteristics, job characteristics and perceived working conditions.
The final response rate was 63%. Of the respondents, 55% acknowledged high levels of stress, and 81% reported high job satisfaction. Personal and job characteristics explained 2%–6% of the variance in job stress and satisfaction. Perceived working conditions were more important, explaining 24% of the variance in job stress and 34% of the variance in job satisfaction. Among perceived working conditions, the interference of work on home life (odds ratio [OR] 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.35–1.76) and not being able to live up to one's professional standards (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.37–1.80) were most related to stress. Feeling poorly managed and resourced (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.76–2.43) diminished job satisfaction. Burnout was explained by both high stress and low satisfaction (41% of variance explained) rather than by stress alone.
Our study showed a protective effect of job satisfaction against the negative consequences of work stress as well as the importance of organizational rather than personal factors in managing both stress and satisfaction.