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Fam Med. 2010 Jun;42(6):433-9.

Work-related behavior and experience patterns and predictors of mental health in German physicians in medical practice.

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Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Friedensau Adventist University, Friedensau, Germany.



Work-related stress and burnout among physicians are of increasing relevance. The aim of this study was to investigate work-related behavior and experience patterns and predictors of mental health of physicians working in medical practice in Germany.


We surveyed a stratified, random sample of 900 physicians from different specialties. The questionnaire included the standardized instruments Work-related Behavior and Experience Pattern (AVEM) and the Short Form-12 Health Survey (SF-12).


Only one third of physicians reported high or very high general satisfaction with their job, but 64% would choose to study medicine again. Only 18% of physicians presented a healthy behavior and experience pattern. Almost 40% presented a pattern of reduced motivation to work, 21% were at risk of overexertion, and 22% at risk for burnout. Willingness to study medicine again, fulfilled job expectations, professional years, marital status, and behavior patterns were significant predictors of mental health and accounted for 35.6% of the variance in mental health scores. Job-related perceptions also had a significant effect on burnout.


The strong influence of work-related perceptions suggests a need for realistic expectation management in medical education, as well as support in stress management and coping strategies during medical training.

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