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Fam Pract. 2014 Jun;31(3):319-24. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmt086. Epub 2014 Jan 30.

General practitioners' psychosocial resources, distress, and sickness absence: a study comparing the UK and Finland.

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National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland and
National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland and.
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Many countries, including the UK and Finland, face difficulties in recruiting GPs and one reason for these difficulties may be due to negative psychosocial work environments.


To compare psychosocial resources (job control and participative safety), distress and sickness absences between GPs from the UK and those from Finland. We also examined differences in how psychosocial resources are associated with distress and sickness absence and how distress is associated with sickness absence for both countries.


Two independent cross-sectional surveys conducted in general practice in the UK and Finland. Analyses of covariance were used for continuous outcome variables and logistic regression for dichotomized variable (sickness absence) adjusted for gender, qualification year and response format.


UK GPs reported more opportunities to control their work and had higher levels of participative safety but were more distressed than Finnish GPs. Finnish GPs were 2.3 (95% confidence interval = 1.8-3.1) times more likely to report sickness absence spells than UK GPs. Among Finnish GPs, job control opportunities and high participative safety were associated with lower levels of distress, but not among UK GPs. Among UK GPs, higher distress was associated with 2.1 (95% confidence interval = 1.3-3.6) times higher likelihood of sickness absence spells, but among Finnish GPs there were no such association.


In Finland, primary health care organizations should try to improve participative safety and increase control opportunities of physicians to decrease GP distress, whereas in the UK, other work or private life factors may be more important.


Finland; UK; general practitioners; psychosocial resources; sickness absence; work-related stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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