When a physician marries a physician: effect of physician-physician marriages on professional activities.
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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether more Canadian family physicians are marrying other physicians and to examine the influence of physician-physician marriages on FPs' professional activities. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a population survey (mailed questionnaire) using regression analysis. SETTING: Canadian family medicine. PARTICIPANTS: Family physicians who responded to the 2001 National Family Physician Workforce Survey conducted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) (13 088 respondents; 51.3% response rate). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The main outcome measure was self-reported hours spent on professional activities during a typical week. Other information used in this analysis included marital status (currently married or not), hours spent providing dependent care each week, age (65 and older or younger than 65), sex, practice location (rural or not), and age of youngest child (younger than 6 or not). These factors were previously reported to affect amount of time spent on professional activities. Decade of graduation was used descriptively; having a physician spouse was considered a variable in the regression. RESULTS: About 86% of FPs were married; 16% of these were married to other physicians. The proportion of physician-physician marriages increased over time, mainly because male physicians increasingly married female physicians. The youngest cohort had the highest proportion of physician-physician marriages (20%). Having a physician spouse significantly reduced the hours devoted to professional practice. After taking into account the effects of other factors known to influence extent of professional activities, on average, female FPs in physician-physician marriages worked about 5 hours less weekly than other female physicians, and male FPs worked about 3 hours less weekly than other male physicians. The effect of other factors was consistent with previous reports of their influence on professional activities. CONCLUSION: These findings have implications for medical human resource planning. The cumulative effect on physicians' work time that physician-physician marriages have must be considered. Two physicians married to each other might be a marker for a couple with high discretionary income that allows them to make a lifestyle choice of reducing work time. If this is the case, reduction in professional activities is more likely to be found among FPs whose spouses can command a high salary.
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