Original Research

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 155-161

First online:

A Survey of U.S. Physicians and Their Partners Regarding the Impact of Work–Home Conflict

  • Liselotte N. DyrbyeAffiliated withMayo Clinic Email author 
  • , Wayne SotileAffiliated withTulane University School of Medicine
  • , Sonja BooneAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois Hospital and Health System, Chicago Campus, Community Based Practice
  • , Colin P. WestAffiliated withMayo Clinic
  • , Litjen TanAffiliated withImmunization Action Coalition
  • , Daniel SateleAffiliated withMayo Clinic
  • , Jeff SloanAffiliated withMayo Clinic
  • , Mick OreskovichAffiliated withUniversity of Washington
  • , Tait ShanafeltAffiliated withMayo Clinic

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Work–home conflicts (WHC) threaten work–life balance among physicians, especially those in dual career relationships. In this study, we analyzed factors associated with WHC for physicians and their employed partners.


We surveyed 89,831 physicians from all specialty disciplines listed in the Physician Masterfile. Of the 7,288 (27.7 %) physicians who completed the survey, 1,644 provided the e-mail contact information of their partner. We surveyed these partners and 891 (54 %) responded. Burnout, quality of life (QOL), and depression were measured using validated instruments in both surveys. Satisfaction with career, work–life balance, and personal relationships, as well as experience of WHC were also evaluated.


WHC within the previous 3 weeks were commonly experienced by physicians and their employed partners (44.3 % and 55.7 %, respectively). On multivariate analysis, greater work hours for physicians and their employed partners were independently associated with WHC (OR 1.31 and 1.23 for each additional 10 h, respectively, both p < 0.0001). Physicians and partners who had experienced a recent WHC were more likely to have symptoms of burnout (47.1 % vs. 26.6 % for physicians with and without WHC; 42.4 % vs. 23.8 % for partners with and without WHC, both p < 0.0001).


WHC are commonly experienced by physicians and their employed partners. These conflicts may be a major contributor to personal distress for physicians and their partners.


physician spouses work–home conflict burnout quality of life career satisfaction