Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How Marriage Works in Medicine

...extremely well, in the majority of cases, according to this survey.  55.4% of physician spouses (73.2% female, 27.1% male) responded by saying they were "extremely satisfied" with their relationship, while another 31.4% were "somewhat satisfied".  Only a tiny 2.1% of spouses said they were "extremely dissatisfied" – and these numbers, as best can be reasonably compared, are very similar to the general population.

Of course, this is a survey of a subset of the Physician Masterfile that even provided an e-mail address for their spouse – so it has all sort of potential for response biases.  Regardless, it's an interesting glimpse into a few elements that seem to make for healthy relationships:
  • The spouses that saw their partner less than 20 minutes a day were far less likely to be satisfied.
  • Increasing hourly workweeks and nights on-call were negative influences.
  • Spouses employed less than full-time seemed to be less satisfied than unemployed or full-time employed.
  • Fatigue and time commitment were the greatest reported family stressors.
According to these authors, no differences were found between practice type or physician specialty ("data not shown").  Perhaps they were simply lacking statistical power, because previously published data indicated significant variability in likelihood of divorce between specialties – with psychiatry (50%) and surgery (33%) leading the pack over the base rate of general medical specialties (22-24%).

"The Medical Marriage: A National Survey of the Spouses/Partners of US Physicians"
http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(12)01187-1/fulltext

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