Work-home stress has been associated with burnout in medical doctors, and traditionally this stress has been more prominent in female doctors. Are there any gender differences in the levels of work-home stress experienced by the younger cohorts of medical doctors?
Two nationwide cohorts with 5-6 years apart from The Longitudinal Study of Norwegian Medical students and Doctors (NORDOC) were surveyed. All students who graduated from the four universities in 1993/94 (N = 631) were approached 9/10 years after graduation in 2003, and compared with those that graduated in 1999 (N = 421), who were followed up at the similar stage in 2008. Work-Home Interference (WHI) was studied with three items from a modified job stress questionnaire (Cooper/Tyssen). Any differences between the genders in WHI-levels were studied, also when adjusted for number of children and number of working hours per week in multiple linear regression models.
The response rate was 62% (390/631) in the 1993/94 cohort, 58% being women; and in the 1999 cohort 75% (316/421) responded, also here 58% being women. In the 1993/94 cohort there was no gender difference in the unadjusted mean WHI-levels at 9/10 year after graduation, but in the 1999 cohort, at the similar stage, there was a significantly higher WHI-level among male doctors compared to that among their female colleagues (p = 0.016). This significant gender difference held true also after adjusting for number of children and work hours. On the other hand, and after adjusting for number of children and work hours, in the 1993/1994 cohort the female doctors showed a higher level of WHI than did their male colleagues.
There seems to be a somewhat unexpected gender-shift in the experience of work-home stress among Norwegian doctors between 2003 and 2008, and this should be further studied.