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J Gen Intern Med. 1999 Mar;14(3):157-65.

Marital and parental satisfaction of married physicians with children.

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  • 1UCLA Department of Medicine, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.



To evaluate personal and professional factors associated with marital and parental satisfaction of physicians.


Cross-sectional study.


A survey was sent to equal numbers of licensed male and female physicians in a Southern California county. Of 964 delivered questionnaires, 656 (68%) were returned completed. Our sample includes 415 currently married physicians with children, 64% male and 36% female.


Ratings of marital and parental satisfaction were measured on a 5-point Likert scale, 5 being extremely satisfied. Prevalence of work and home life factors was also evaluated. The mean score for marital satisfaction was 3.92 (range 1.75-5.0). Approximately half of the physicians reported high levels of marital satisfaction (63% of male physicians and 45% of female physicians). The gender difference disappeared after adjusting for age differences. Two factors were associated with high marital satisfaction: a supportive spouse (odds ratio [OR] 10.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.66, 40.08) and role conflict (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.42, 0.88). The mean score for parental satisfaction was 3. 43 (range 1.0-5.0), and approximately two thirds of both male and female physicians reported at least moderate levels of parental satisfaction. The major factors associated with parental satisfaction were a supportive spouse (OR 2.24; 95% CI 1.32, 3.80), role conflict (OR 0.35; 95% CI 0.23, 0.53), salaried practice setting (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.21, 3.81), marriage to a spouse working in a profession (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.21, 3.81), and marriage to a spouse working as a homemaker (OR 2.33; 95% CI 1.20, 4.56). Number of hours worked was not found to be related to either satisfaction score, but rather to an intervening variable, role conflict.


For physicians with children, our study indicates that minimizing the level of role conflict and having a supportive spouse are associated with higher levels of marital and parental satisfaction. Working in salaried positions and marriage to a spouse who is either working in a profession or who is a stay-at-home parent are also related to high parental satisfaction.

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