Objective: In order to understand reasons for the low priority of the work in primary health care among physicians, we studied differences in the work stress and in health and health related lifestyle between general practitioners (GPs) and hospital physicians. Method: A cohort of 226 GPs and 523 consultants from Finland responded to a questionnaire survey. The responses were linked to data on registered sickness absence. Results: Compared to consultants, GPs reported higher job strain (odds ratio 1.76, 95% CI 1.23-2.53) and perceived overload (2.29, 95% CI 1.65-3.16) but were less likely to report poor team climate (0.65, 95% CI 0.46-0.91) and procedural injustice (0.49, 95% CI 0.34-0.72) and interactional injustice (0.62, 95% CI 0.44-0.88). Differences in lifestyle, perceived health, psychological distress and long sick-leaves between GPs and consultants were small. Short sick-leaves were more common among GPs, but this difference disappeared after controlling for work characteristics. Conclusion: As far as reasons of the recruitment crisis in primary health care concern the working conditions studied, job strain and heavy workload overweigh the attractiveness resulting from good climate and low organizational injustice. The non-significant differences in health may indicate that there are no differences in total work stress between GPs and consultants. In tackling the recruitment problems in the field of health care, it is of particular importance to achieve an awareness of the sector specific adversities in the working conditions.
- general practitioner
- sickness absence
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