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Depress Anxiety. 2003;17(3):180-9.

Stresses on women physicians: consequences and coping techniques.

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University of Toronto, Women's Mental Health Program, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


We review current data on types of stressors acting on women physicians, the consequences of these stressors and methods of coping with them. We undertook a systematic review of original articles published in the last 15 years and registered mainly on Medline and on the internet websites focusing on these issues. In addition to the pressures acting on all physicians, women physicians face specific stressors related to discrimination, lack of role models and support, role strain, and overload. The depression rate in women physicians does not vary from that of the general public but the rates of successful suicide and divorce are much higher. Women in academic settings are promoted more slowly, have lower salaries, receive fewer resources, and suffer from a range of micro-inequities. They often lack mentors to provide advice and guidance. They must cope with the pressures of choosing when to have a child and conflicts between being a wife and mother and having a career. Despite these pressures, they report a high degree of career satisfaction. Although women physicians suffer from a variety of stressors that can lead to career impediments, stress reactions, and psychiatric problems, generally they are satisfied with their careers. Personal coping techniques can help women deal with these stressors. Pressures will continue until attitudes and practices change in institutional settings. Some institutions are initiating changes to end discrimination against women faculty.

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