Research Article

Job stress, satisfaction, and mental health among general practitioners before and after introduction of new contract.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 13 June 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:1545
  1. V. J. Sutherland,
  2. C. L. Cooper
  1. Department of Organisational Psychology, Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.


    OBJECTIVE--To compare measures of job stress, job satisfaction, and mental health among general practitioners before and after the introduction of the new contract in April 1990. DESIGN--Cross sectional postal questionnaire survey in July 1990. Comparison of results with those obtained in previous survey in November 1987. SETTING--General practice in United Kingdom. SUBJECTS--1500 general practitioners randomly selected from general medical services lists, 917 of whom (61%) returned questionnaires usable for statistical analysis. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Aspects of job causing stress, job satisfaction (Warr, Cook, and Wall scale), and mental health (Crown-Crisp experiential index). RESULTS--Compared with 1987, in 1990 doctors experienced more stress from night calls (mean score 3.83 in 1990 v 3.45 in 1987), emergencies during surgery hours (3.72 v 3.48), and interruption of family life by telephone (3.58 v 2.73; p less than 0.001 for all three variables). Scores for somatic anxiety and depression were higher in both men and women in 1990 (men: somatic anxiety 3.12 v 2.36; depression 3.80 v 2.94; women: somatic anxiety 3.56 v 2.65; depression 4.02 v 3.37; p less than 0.001). Job satisfaction had also decreased in 1990 (5.23 v 4.26; p less than 0.001). CONCLUSIONS--Doctors experienced more stress, less job satisfaction, and poorer mental health in 1990 than in 1987. These changes may have resulted from the introduction of the new contract.