Marital and Parental Satisfaction of Married Physicians with Children

Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine, v. 14, no. 3, Mar. 1999, p. 157-165

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1999

by Carole M. Warde, Kushan Moonesinghe, Walter Allen, Lillian Gelberg

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate personal and professional factors associated with marital and parental satisfaction of physicians. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. PARTICIPANTS: A survey was sent to equal numbers of licensed male and female physicians in a Southern California county. Of 964 delivered questionnaires, 656 (68%) were returned completed. The sample includes 415 currently married physicians with children, 64% male and 36% female. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Ratings of marital and parental satisfaction were measured on a 5-point Likert scale, 5 being extremely satisfied. Prevalence of work and home life factors was also evaluated. The mean score for marital satisfaction was 3.92 (range 1.75-5.0). Approximately half of the physicians reported high levels of marital satisfaction (63% of male physicians and 45% of female physicians). The gender difference disappeared after adjusting for age differences. Two factors were associated with high marital satisfaction: a supportive spouse (odds ratio [OR] 10.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.66, 40.08) and role conflict (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.42, 0.88). The mean score for parental satisfaction was 3. 43 (range 1.0-5.0), and approximately two thirds of both male and female physicians reported at least moderate levels of parental satisfaction. The major factors associated with parental satisfaction were a supportive spouse (OR 2.24; 95% CI 1.32, 3.80), role conflict (OR 0.35; 95% CI 0.23, 0.53), salaried practice setting (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.21, 3.81), marriage to a spouse working in a profession (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.21, 3.81), and marriage to a spouse working as a homemaker (OR 2.33; 95% CI 1.20, 4.56). Number of hours worked was not found to be related to either satisfaction score, but rather to an intervening variable, role conflict. CONCLUSIONS: For physicians with children, our study indicates that minimizing the level of role conflict and having a supportive spouse are associated with higher levels of marital and parental satisfaction. Working in salaried positions and marriage to a spouse who is either working in a profession or who is a stay-at-home parent are also related to high parental satisfaction.

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