Freedom to choose their working environment and to organise their practice to suit themselves is associated with job satisfaction in general practitioners (GPs), according to a qualitative study conducted in eight countries. The findings, which are published in BMC Family Practice, also suggest that access to professional education to aid the development of specific skills may improve job satisfaction in GPs.
The study, conducted by the European General Practice Research Network, included face-to-face interviews and focus groups with 183 GPs in Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Poland and Slovenia.
Five positive themes were common among GPs in all countries:
- The GP as a person (including personal well-being);
- Special skills needed in practice;
- Doctor-patient relationships (including balancing empathy and professional distance);
- Freedom in the practice (such as choice of location and how the practice was set up); and
- Supportive factors for work-life balance.
It is predicted that the shortage of health personnel in Europe could reach two million by the year 2020. The authors advise that these and previously identified factors affecting GP job satisfaction should be considered by stakeholders to help tackle this shortage.