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Age-related differences in working hours among male and female GPs: an SMS-based time-use study.

Hassel, D. van, Velden, L. van der, Bakker, D. de, Batenburg, R. Age-related differences in working hours among male and female GPs: an SMS-based time-use study. Human Resources for Health: 2017, 15(84)
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In several countries, the number of hours worked by general practitioners (GPs) has decreased, raising concern about current and impending workforce shortages. This shorter working week has been ascribed both to the feminisation of the workforce and to a younger generation of GPs who prefer more flexible working arrangements. There is, however, limited insight into how the impact of these determinants interact. We investigated the relative importance of differences in GPs’ working hours in relation to gender, age, and employment position.

An analysis was performed on real-time monitoring data collected by sending SMS text messages to 1051 Dutch GPs, who participated during a 1-week time use study. We used descriptive statistics, independent sample t-tests, and one-way ANOVA analysis to compare the working time of different GP groups. A path analysis was conducted to examine the difference in working time by gender, age, employment position, and their combinations.

Female GPs worked significantly fewer hours than their male peers. GPs in their 50s worked the highest number of hours, followed by GPs age 60 and older. GPs younger than 40 worked the lowest number of hours. This relationship between working hours and age was not significantly different for women and men. As shown by path analysis, female GPs consistently worked fewer hours than their male counterparts, regardless of their age and employment position. The relationship between age and working hours was largely influenced by gender and employment position.

The variation in working hours among GPs can be explained by the combination of gender, age, and employment position. Gender appears to be the most important predictor as the largest part of the variation in working hours is explained by a direct effect of this variable. It has previously been reported that the difference in working hours between male and female GPs had decreased over time. However, our findings suggest that gender remains a critical factor for variation in time use and for policy instruments such as health workforce planning. (aut. ref.)