Work experiences among nurses and physicians in the beginning of their professional careers – analyses using the effort–reward imbalance model
The aim of the study was to scrutinise how nurses and physicians, employed by the county councils in Sweden, assess their work environment in terms of effort and reward at the start of their career. The aim was also to estimate associations between work satisfaction and the potential outcomes from the effort–reward imbalance (ERI) questionnaire. The study group, 198 nurses and 242 physicians who graduated in 1999, is a subsample drawn from a national cross-sectional survey. Data were collected in the third year after graduation among the nurses and in the fourth year after graduation among registered physicians. The effort–reward imbalance questionnaire, together with a question on work satisfaction, was used to evaluate psychosocial factors at work. The results reveal that nurses scored higher on effort, lower on reward and experienced higher effort–reward imbalance, compared with physicians. Women scored higher on work-related overcommitment (WOC) compared with men. Among the physicians, logistic regression analysis revealed a statistically significant association between WOC and ERI, sex, effort and reward. Logistic regression analysis also revealed a statistically significant association between WOC and ERI and between WOC and effort among the nurses. Dissatisfaction with work was significantly higher among those who scored worst on all three ERI subscales (effort, reward and WOC) and also among those with the highest ERI ratios compared with the other respondents. In conclusion, to prevent future work-related health problems and work dissatisfaction among nurses and physicians in the beginning of their professional careers, signs of poor psychosocial working conditions have to been taken seriously. In future work-related stress research among healthcare personnel, gender-specific aspects of working conditions must be further highlighted to develop more gender-sensitive analyses.