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Am J Public Health. 1984 Dec;74(12):1348-52.

Changes in the hours worked by physicians, 1970-80.


The hours worked by physicians are affected by changes in a number of factors, including attitudes towards labor-leisure tradeoffs, the characteristics of the physician workforce, and the level of demand for medical services. This paper analyzes changes in the hours worked per week by office-based physicians over the decade 1970-80. Overall, there has been a statistically significant decline in hours of approximately 3 per cent, or 1.5 hours per week. This decline was fairly uniform across most physician characteristics, although the decline was greater for those in primary care specialties. Female physicians increased their average hours worked, although this increase was not statistically significant. In terms of the delivery of skilled medical services, the decline in total hours was largely offset by an increase in the percentage of total hours devoted to patient care. The question of whether these trends will continue has important implications for the validity of projections of a physician surplus in the near future.

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