Are Psychiatrists More Dissatisfied with Their Careers Than Other Physicians?

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 52, no. 5, May 2001, p. 581

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Roland Sturm

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The growth of managed care has been associated with a decrease in physicians' professional satisfaction. The role of managed care has been particularly contentious in psychiatry, largely because of the development of specialized managed behavioral health organizations (carve-outs). Many believe that the effects of managed care have been more adverse among psychiatrists. This column compares career satisfaction of psychiatrists, other medical specialists, and primary care physicians. The data come from the Community Tracking Study (CTS) physician survey, which surveyed active U.S. physicians between August 1996 and August 1997. A total of 623 psychiatrists completed interviews, compared with 4,708 other medical and surgical specialists and 7,197 primary care physicians. Although psychiatrists in the survey expressed more dissatisfaction than other physicians, almost all those differences disappeared when age, and to a lesser extent practice setting, were taken into account. Thus other factors, such as differential managed care effects unique to psychiatry, cannot be responsible for higher professional dissatisfaction in psychiatry.

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