A Qualitative Study Investigating Gender Differences in Primary Work Stressors and Levels of Job Satisfaction in Greek Junior Hospital Doctors

Article excerpt

Primary work stressors and job satisfaction/dissatisfaction in Greek Junior Hospital Doctors (JHDs) are investigated to identify similarities and differences in the reports obtained from male and female hospital doctors. Participants in the study included 32 male and 28 female Greek hospital doctors who provided information through semi-structured, in-depth interviews. The findings revealed that a majority of Greek JHDs considered their profession very stressful, and that various differences were identified between male and female JHDs, with regard to perceived stress and satisfaction. The study has implications for the possible introduction of in-house stress management training programmes, both at a generic, and gender specific level. Future research aimed at increasing the individuals' coping mechanisms, and identifying environmental sources of stress are recommended. Key Words: Occupational Stressors, Job Satisfaction, Junior Hospital Doctors, Gender Differences, Qualitative Research, and Content Analysis

Introduction

It is widely acknowledged that work-related stress could have serious consequences as much for the individual as for the organization in which he/she works (Cooper, Dewe, & O'Driscoll, 2001; Sparks, Faragher, & Cooper, 2001). These consequences include absenteeism, depression, anxiety, and job dissatisfaction.

Individuals' responses to the disturbance of equilibrium might either result in a use of one's own backup resources or a cessation of functioning altogether (Deary & Trait, 1987; Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001; Schaufeli, 1999). In a study aiming to determine doctors' job satisfaction, stress, and their interconnectness, Makin, Rout, and Cooper (1988) found that general practitioners' professional satisfaction is negatively affected by factors such as poor pay and excessive workload.

Furthermore, the unpredictable and unplanned interruptions seem to be a great source of stress for doctors Research by the British Medical Association, Health Policy, and Economic Research Unit (1998) showed that, for a sample of 440 full-time Senior House Officers and General Practitioner trainees in the UK, the most common sources of stress were the long working hours, the work demands that interfere with their social and personal lives, and the extreme overload. A significant stress factor that is often overlooked is the fact that doctors, compared to other professions, are responsible for human beings rather than "objects" (Caplan, Cobb, French, Harrison, & Pinneau, 1975). Thus, omission of duties or misconduct has profound effects on human life (Antoniou, 2001; Sexton, Thomas, & Helmreich, 2000). There are many studies that suggest that the sources of stress among doctors differ not only according to type of the work, but also according to the grade and the specialty (Burbeck, Coomber, Robinson, & Todd, 2002; Coomber et al., 2002; Sutherland & Cooper, 2003).

Difficulties in patient contact and social pressure and interaction with other health professionals was not associated with the grade, but with the level of workload. Face-to-face contact with patients, their relatives, and other health professionals, together with the exposure to health risks and injuries, have previously been reported as significant sources of stress (Antoniou, 2006). Furthermore, in a review of prospective studies published over 20 years, Arnetz (2001), found that perceived overload, perceived medical-school stress, emotional pressure, and stress outside of work were predictors of mental health outcomes for young doctors during their first postgraduate years.

The fact that jobs involving caring for humans are particularly stressful, has given rise to a growing body of research on stress among the health care professions. As stated by Sutherland & Cooper (2003), "stress is inherent in the medical professions" (p. 12). In addition to identification of stress levels, researchers often report job dissatisfaction as a problematic theme among young doctors. …