OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to examine the dimensions of physician work satisfaction across a variety of medical specialties and practice settings. METHODS: A modified version of the Scheckler et al survey instrument was mailed to all physicians in Marion County, Indiana. Forty-two percent (777) of the eligible physicians responded. Exploratory factor analysis and internal consistency measures were used to assess the instrument's validity and reliability. Multivariable linear regression was used to predict global and summary scale scores. RESULTS: Four dimensions of physician work satisfaction were identified: relationships with patients (k = 6, alpha = 0.81), autonomy in clinical decision-making (k = 8, alpha = 0.81), office resources (k = 7, alpha = 0.87), and professional relationships (k = 5, alpha = 0.82). Most (73%) of the physicians were satisfied with their overall practice, and the majority were also satisfied with their income. Significant differences were observed in the sources and magnitude of physician work satisfaction across medical specialty, practice setting, and financial arrangement. Physicians in private practice were most satisfied with their overall practice and office resources, whereas physicians in health maintenance organizations (HMOs) were most satisfied with their autonomy in clinical decision-making. Physicians not working in HMOs but having a large percentage of patients with capitated reimbursement were not enthusiastic about the effect of managed care on their medical practice. Among primary care physicians, family practitioners and general internists were generally less satisfied, and general pediatricians were generally more satisfied with most aspects of their medical practices. CONCLUSIONS: The modified version of the Scheckler et al instrument is a reliable and valid measure of physician work satisfaction. Increases in the market share of managed care have differentially affected the work satisfaction of physicians based on their medical specialty, practice setting, and financial arrangements.
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