Surgeon-physician marriages can place stress on careers, emotional health

November 30, 2010

CHICAGO (November 30, 2010) - Surgeons married to physicians face more challenges in balancing their personal and professional lives than do surgeons whose partners work in a non-physician field or stay at home, according to new research findings focused on surgeon marriages published in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

As part of the significant influx of women into the workforce over the last 50 years, more women are now surgeons and physicians than ever before. This trend has produced many more dual- career marriages, including many more dual-physician marriages. This new study focuses specifically on how surgeons fare in being partnered with other surgeons, with other (non-surgical) physicians, with non-physicians or with spouses who stay at home. The researchers used data from a large 2008 national survey of members of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and set out to find how surgeons in dual-physician relationships differ from other surgeons whose partners are not physicians in their demographics, practice characteristics, family lives, distress (ie, burnout, depression, and quality of life), and job satisfaction.

They found that surgeons in dual physician relationships had a greater incidence of career conflicts and work-home conflicts (all p < 0.0001). Surgeons partnered with fellow surgeons faced even greater challenges in these areas than surgeons partnered with non-surgeon physicians. In addition, surgeons in dual-physician relationships were more likely to have "depressive symptoms and low mental quality of life" than surgeons whose partners stayed home (all p < 0.05).

"To help facilitate the lives of dual-career couples, health care organizations should consider coordinated schedules, daycare [provisions] in the workplace, adjusted timelines for promotion and tenure, and planning for spousal employment during recruitment," said Liselotte N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine and a Consultant of the Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN, and the lead author of the study.

The survey was completed by 7,905 of 24,922 ACS members (a 32 percent response rate), of whom 7,120 (90 percent) were married or in domestic partnerships. Nearly half (3,471 of 7,120 or 48.8 percent) of surgeons' partners did not work outside the home. Among the remaining 3,649 surgeons whose partner worked outside the home, 31.9 percent (1,165) indicated their partner was a fellow physician; nearly a third of the physician couples (335 of 1,165) were surgeon-surgeon couples. Surgeons married to or partnered with other physicians, who represent a growing segment of the surgeon population, are younger and newer to practice than their surgical colleagues who are married to or partnered with non-physicians or partners who did not work outside the home.
-end-
About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 77,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.

Weber Shandwick Worldwide

Related Physicians Articles from Brightsurf:

Needlestick, sharps injuries among resident physicians
Rates and characteristics of needle stick and other sharps injuries among resident physicians and other staff at a large health care center were examined in this study.

Prevalence of suicide-related behaviors among physicians
An analysis of published studies has found a relatively high prevalence of suicidal behaviors among physicians.

To support lactating emergency physicians, consider these strategies
A new paper highlights strategies that emergency departments can implement to support lactating emergency physicians.

Physicians call for an end to conversion therapy
Historically, conversion therapies have used electroshock therapy, chemical drugs, hormone administrations and even surgery.

Racial bias associated with burnout among resident physicians
Symptoms of physician burnout appear to be associated with greater bias toward black people in this study of nearly 3,400 second-year resident physicians in the United States who identified as nonblack.

Survey finds physicians struggle with their own self-care
Despite believing that self-care is a vitally important part of health and overall well-being, many physicians overlook their own self-care, according to a new survey released today, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs.

Less burnout seen among US physicians, Stanford researcher says
The epidemic levels of physicians reporting burnout dropped modestly in 2017, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association.

Payments to physicians may increase opioid prescribing
US doctors who receive direct payments from opioid manufacturers tend to prescribe more opioids than doctors who receive no such payments, according to new research published by Addiction.

Is marketing of opioids to physicians associated with overdose deaths?
This study examined the association between pharmaceutical company marketing of opioids to physicians and subsequent death from prescription opioid overdoses across US counties.

Nearly half of resident physicians report burnout
Resident physician burnout in the US is widespread, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties, according to research from Mayo Clinic, OHSU and collaborators.

Read More: Physicians News and Physicians Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.