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Original Article
November 1, 2004

Professional Satisfaction of Women in Surgery: Results of a National Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Dr End) and Medical Computer Sciences (Dr Mittlboeck), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; and Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Ludwig-Boltzmann Institute for Quality Control in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria (Dr Piza-Katzer).

Arch Surg. 2004;139(11):1208-1214. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.11.1208

Hypothesis  Individual, group, and organizational factors influence the professional satisfaction of women surgeons in Austria.

Design  Survey on professional and private issues sent out by mail in 2000 and 2001.

Setting  Women surgeons working in hospitals and/or in private practices and those who were retired or on maternity leave.

Participants  All 351 Austrian women surgeons of all core surgical specialties (general, trauma, pediatric, plastic, thoracic, and cardiovascular), certified or in training, were addressed.

Main Outcome Measures  Proportional odds regression models were used to correlate professional satisfaction with objectively measurable prognostic factors such as age, surgical subspecialty, status of training, type of hospital, location of work (federal states vs the capital), status of activity (active vs on maternity leave). profession of private partner, number of children, and subjectively assessed prognostic factors such as operative volume and departmental organization.

Results  The response rate was 58.7% (206/351). One hundred eighty-seven surgeons—active or on maternity leave—were included in the analysis. Higher satisfaction was reported by active surgeons in subspecialties, certified surgeons, comparatively younger and older surgeons, surgeons working in hospitals outside the capital, and surgeons with a physician as a partner. When entering subjectively assessed variables into the model, the quality of departmental organization and operative volume (P<.001), as well as the status of activity (P<.001), had the strongest effect.

Conclusions  Women surgeons’ professional satisfaction highly depends on departmental organization and status of activity. Inadequate leadership, low operative volume, and being on maternity leave have a negative effect on job satisfaction. Private factors seem to be of little influence. Optimal departmental organization would help women to reconcile their professional and their private lives.