Australian doctors’ satisfaction with their work: results from the MABEL longitudinal survey of doctors

Catherine M Joyce, Stefanie Schurer, Anthony Scott, John Humphreys and Guyonne Kalb
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (1): 30-33.


Objective: To compare the level and determinants of job satisfaction between four groups of Australian doctors: general practitioners, specialists, specialists-in-training, and hospital non-specialists.

Design, participants and setting: National cross-sectional questionnaire survey as part of the baseline cohort of a longitudinal survey of Australian doctors in clinical practice (Medicine in Australia — Balancing Employment and Life [MABEL]), undertaken between June and November 2008, including 5193 Australian doctors (2223 GPs, 2011 specialists, 351 hospital non-specialists, and 608 specialists-in-training).

Main outcome measures: Job satisfaction scores for each group of doctors; the association between job satisfaction and doctor, job and geographical characteristics.

Results: 85.7% of doctors were moderately or very satisfied with their jobs. There were no differences in job satisfaction between GPs, specialists and specialists-in-training. Hospital non-specialists were the least satisfied compared with GPs (odds ratio [OR], 0.56 [95% CI, 0.39–0.81]). For all doctors, factors associated with high job satisfaction were a good support network (OR, 1.72 [95% CI, 1.41–2.10]), patients not having unrealistic expectations (OR, 1.48 [95% CI, 1.25–1.75]), and having no difficulty in taking time off work (OR,1.48 [95% CI, 1.20–1.84]). These associations did not vary across doctor types. Compared with GPs, on-call work was associated with lower job satisfaction for specialists (OR, 0.48 [95% CI, 0.23–0.98]) and hospital non-specialists (OR, 0.25 [95% CI, 0.08–0.83]).

Conclusion: This is the first national survey of job satisfaction for doctors in Australia. It provides an important baseline to examine the impact of future health care reforms and other policy changes on the job satisfaction of doctors.

  • Catherine M Joyce1
  • Stefanie Schurer2
  • Anthony Scott2
  • John Humphreys1
  • Guyonne Kalb2

  • 1 Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


This work was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Health Services research grant and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. The views in this paper are those of the authors alone. We thank the doctors who gave their valuable time to participate in the Medicine in Australia — Balancing Employment and Life Study; Anne Leahy, Sung-Hee Jeon, Julia Witt, Terence Cheng, Daniel Kuehnle, Matthew McGrail, Michelle McIsaac, Durga Shrestha, Danny Hills and Peter Sivey for data cleaning and comments; and Rory Wolfe for biostatistical advice.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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