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Am J Manag Care. 2001 Jul;7(7):701-13.

Primary care physician job satisfaction and turnover.

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  • 1Healthcare Management Program, Department of Health Science, Towson University, 8000 York Rd, Towson, MD 21252-0001, USA.



To examine the relationship of personal characteristics, organizational characteristics, and overall job satisfaction to primary care physician (PCP) turnover.


A cohort of 507 postresident, nonfederally employed PCPs younger than 45 years of age, who completed their medical training between 1982 and 1985, participated in national surveys in 1987 and 1991. Psychological, economic, and sociological theories and constructs provided a conceptual framework. Primary care physician personal, organizational, and overall job satisfaction variables from 1987 were considered independent variables. Turnover-related responses from 1991 were dependent variables. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted.


More than half (55%) of all PCPs in the cohort left at least 1 practice between 1987 and 1991. Twenty percent of the cohort left 2 employers. PCPs dissatisfied in 1987 were 2.38 times more likely to leave (P < .001). Primary care physicians who believed that third-party payer influence would decrease in 5 years were 1.29 times more likely to leave (P < .03). Non-board certified PCPs were 1.3 times more likely to leave (P < .003). Primary care physicians who believed that standardized protocols were overused were 1.18 times more likely to leave (P < .05). Specialty, gender, age, race, and practice setting were not associated with PCP turnover.


Turnover was an important phenomenon among PCPs in this cohort. The results of this study could enable policy makers, managed care organizations, researchers, and others to better understand the relationship between job satisfaction and turnover.

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