Married to medicine? Doctors maintain strong relationships

Most physicians' partners work outside the home

Topics: Behavioral Health, Service Lines

April 3, 2013

A new Mayo Clinic study debunks the oft-held belief that being married to a doctor is more challenging than having a spouse in another career.

The study, published last week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, drew on survey responses from about 900 spouses and partners of U.S. physicians.

Altogether, 85% of respondents said that they were satisfied in their relationship, and 80% said they would choose a physician spouse or partner again if they could revisit their choice. Those answers are comparable to those of U.S. adults married to or in a relationship with someone who is not a doctor, according to the study.

"The findings challenge a number of stereotypes about physician relationships," lead author Tait Shanafelt says, adding that "[w]hile every relationship has challenges, our research shows that on the whole doctor's spouses and partners are extremely happy in their relationships." 

Shanafelt says that the study offers little evidence to support a belief that physicians have lower-quality relationships or higher rates of divorce because of the demanding nature of their work. Despite general satisfaction in the relationship, spouses and partners in the survey did report that their physician partners frequently came home irritable or too tired to engage in activities around the house.

In addition, the researchers determined that most spouses or partners of physicians work outside of the home. Of that group, most work 30 hours per week or more, and about 40% work full-time (Medical News Today, 4/2).

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