Work-home conflicts have a substantial impact on career decisions that affect the adequacy of the surgical workforce

Liselotte N. Dyrbye, Julie Freischlag, Krista L. Kaups, Michael R. Oreskovich, Daniel V. Satele, John B. Hanks, Jeff A. Sloan, Charles M. Balch, Tait D. Shanafelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate factors associated with work-home conflicts (W-HCs) of US surgeons and their potential personal and professional consequences. Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants: Members of the American College of Surgeons. Main Outcome Measures: Burnout, depression, quality of life, alcohol use, career satisfaction, and career decisions (ie, reduce work hours or leave current practice). Results: Of 7197 participating surgeons, 3754 (52.5%) had experienced a W-HC in the previous 3 weeks. On multivariate analysis, hours worked per week, having children, sex, and work location (Veterans Administration or academic center) were independently associated with an increased risk for W-HC (all P < .01), while some factors (increased age and subspecialty field) reduced the risk. Surgeons with a recent W-HC were more likely to have symptoms of burnout (36.9% vs 17.1%; P < .001), depression (50.9% vs 28.1%; P < .001), alcohol abuse/dependency (17.2% vs 14.4%; P = .003), and were less likely to recommend surgery as a career option to their children (46.0% vs 54.4%; P < .001). Work-home conflicts were also independently associated with surgeons reporting amoderate or higher likelihood of planning to reduce clinical work hours (odds ratio, 1.769) and leave their current practice in the next 24 months for a reason other than retirement (odds ratio, 1.706) after controlling for other personal and professional factors. Conclusions: Integrating personal and professional lives is a substantial challenge for US surgeons. Conflict in this balance appears to be a major factor in their decision to reduce work hours and/or move to a new practice, with potential substantive manpower implications for the surgical workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-939
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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