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Work Intensity Similar Across Physician Specialties

Last Updated: September 19, 2011.

The level of physician work intensity appears to be similar among specialties, with variations in the specific dimensions of stress, physical demands, performance, and temporal demand, according to a study published online Sept. 3 in Medical Care.

MONDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The level of physician work intensity appears to be similar among specialties, with variations in the specific dimensions of stress, physical demands, performance, and temporal demand, according to a study published online Sept. 3 in Medical Care.

Ronnie D. Horner, Ph.D., from the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues evaluated the magnitude and important dimensions of physician work intensity across four specialties by interviewing 45 family physicians, 20 general internists, 22 neurologists, and 21 surgeons via questionnaires. The National Aeronautic and Space Administration-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX), the Subjective Work Assessment Technique (SWAT), and the Multiple Resource Questionnaire were used to measure work intensity. The Dundee Stress State Questionnaire was used to measure stress.

The investigators found that physicians recorded a similar magnitude of work intensity on the Multiple Resource Questionnaire and the NASA-TLX. The SWAT revealed similar work intensity in general internists and surgeons, whereas this intensity was significantly lower when compared to family physicians and neurologists. Significantly higher levels of task engagement on the stress measure, higher intensity on physical demand, lower intensity on performance dimensions of the NASA-TLX, and lower intensity for temporal demand was observed in surgeons compared to other specialties. The highest intensity on time dimension in the SWAT was reported by family physicians.

"Although overall work intensity is similar among specialties, the specific dimensions of work intensity are more variable," the authors write.

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