, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 775-780
Date: 26 Mar 2008

How Strategies for Managing Patient Visit Time Affect Physician Job Satisfaction: A Qualitative Analysis

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

There is much physician discontent regarding policies that limit time for patient visits and contribute to physician dissatisfaction with the medical profession as a whole. Yet little is known about how physician strategies for managing time limits correspond to job satisfaction.

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to identify strategies physicians use for managing time with patients and the effects these strategies have on job satisfaction.

DESIGN

In-depth interviews with primary care providers in various clinical settings (academic medical centers, community-based centers, solo practices, nonacademic group practices) were audiorecorded.

PARTICIPANTS

Primary care physicians (n = 25).

APPROACH

Transcribed audiorecordings of physician interviews were coded using a modified grounded theory approach. An open coding process was used to identify major themes, subthemes, and the interrelationships among them.

RESULTS

Three main themes emerged. (1) Study physicians disregarded time limits despite the known financial consequences of doing so and justified their actions according to various ethical- and values-based frameworks. (2) Disregarding time limits had a positive impact on job satisfaction in the realm of direct patient care. (3) The existence of time limits had a negative impact on overall job satisfaction.

CONCLUSION

For the study physicians, disregarding time limits on patient visits is an adaptive short-term strategy that enhances satisfaction with direct patient care. It is unlikely that such a strategy alone will help physicians cope with their broader—and growing—dissatisfaction with the profession.