The balancing act: key issues in the lives of women general practitioners in Australia

Margaret R Kilmartin, Christopher J Newell and Martin A Line
Med J Aust 2002; 177 (2): 87-89.


Objective: To identify key issues affecting women general practitioners in their professional and non-professional lives.

Design: A qualitative study using the Delphi technique, with three rounds of data provision circulated to each participant. Coding was used to ensure anonymity.

Setting and participants: The participants were a purposive sample of 40 women GPs drawn from all Australian States and Territories. The study was conducted between October 1996 and January 1997.

Outcome measures: Key issues affecting the professional and non-professional lives of women GPs.

Results: Some of the key professional issues for women GPs were job satisfaction, balancing work and personal life, autonomy, availability of flexible and part-time work and training, affordability of professional expenses, fair remuneration, and having a voice in decision-making. Key non-professional issues included self-care; time for relationships with a partner, children, family and friends; and time management to allow pursuit of non-medical interests.

Conclusions: The conflicting demands made on women GPs diminish their job satisfaction and lead to stress and imbalance in their lives. Recommendations to ameliorate the problems for women GPs include appropriate training, policy formation, financial and other support, and a change in cultural expectations of women GPs by the community, the profession and governments.

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  • Margaret R Kilmartin1
  • Christopher J Newell2
  • Martin A Line3

  • University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS.



Funding provided by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) for this research is gratefully acknowledged. We thank the reference group and the participant women general practitioners for their input and advice, as well as Edward Rock and Professor Judi Walker for their assistance.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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