Occupational stress and family life: A comparison of male and female doctors


Swanson V, Power KG & Simpson R (1998) Occupational stress and family life: A comparison of male and female doctors. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 71 (3), pp. 237-260.

Characteristics of medical work suggest that doctors are especially vulnerable to stress between work and home. The present study adopted a theoretical approach towards the study of the relationship between occupational stress and home life in doctors in Scotland, comparing male and female general practitioners (GPs) and specialist consultants. First, the relationship between role complexity and occupational stress, workload, job satisfaction and domestic stress and satisfaction was examined. Second, the theory of asymmetric permeability of occupational and domestic roles was used to compare the impact of work-to-home (WH) and home-to-work (HW) stress. Gender and medical speciality differences were considered as intervening variables. Increased role complexity was related to stress for both male and female doctors in the study, suggesting an increasing convergence in the occupational and domestic roles of male and female doctors. Higher levels of occupational stress were also recorded for WH variables than HW variables for both male and female doctors, confirming the asymmetric permeability of such roles, and failing to identify significant gender differences in this asymmetry. Role complexity was related to reduced occupational workload for females only, and to increased domestic workload for male and female doctors. Aspects of occupational and domestic stress were significantly related to increased role complexity, although role complexity was not significantly related to job satisfaction. When medical specialities were compared, GPs were found to record greater stress in the home/work interface than consultants.

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology: Volume 71, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/1998