10/09/2013 04:22 pm ET

Quality Patient Care Brings Doctors Job Satisfaction, But Barriers To Care Cause Stress: Report


The ability to provide quality care to patients is what gives doctors job satisfaction, according to a new report that also shows how obstacles to providing such care are a leading source of doctors' stress.

"Many things affect physician professional satisfaction, but a common theme is that physicians describe feeling stressed and unhappy when they see barriers preventing them from providing quality care," study researcher Dr. Mark Friedberg, a natural scientist at the nonprofit research organization RAND, said in a statement. "If their perceptions about quality are correct, then solving these problems will be good for both patients and physicians."

The report was sponsored by the American Medical Association and is based on interviews with 220 doctors from 30 different physician practices across Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington, Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as surveys completed by 447 doctors.

Researchers found associations between doctor job satisfaction and electronic health records. Among doctors' biggest worries about e-health records were that they would interfere with face-to-face patient interaction and increase clerical work by doctors. Doctors also reported concern about the accuracy of medical reports, because of the template design of some e-health record systems.

"Physicians believe in the benefits of electronic health records, and most do not want to go back to paper charts," Friedberg said in the statement. "But at the same time, they report that electronic systems are deeply problematic in several ways. Physicians are frustrated by systems that force them to do clerical work or distract them from paying close attention to their patients."

The report also showed that job satisfaction was higher among doctors who had more control over their days and how they conducted their patient care, with job satisfaction being higher among doctors in their own practices than those working at hospitals or corporations.

Productivity quotas and patient time limitations also contribute to doctor job dissatisfaction, as do too many rules and regulations, the report said.