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Are doctors more likely to divorce than other people?

Any Louisiana resident who is studying to be a physician or is already a practicing one has probably heard the adage that divorce rates among doctors are high. The reasons given are usually the long and irregular hours as well as the stress involved with the profession. An assistant professor at Harvard Medical School whose wife is a radiologist decided to research that to see if it was true. The results that he and his colleagues found are interesting.

The study, which looked at data from 2008 to 2013, found that physicians were actually less likely to have gone through a divorce than those in other lines of work. Those studied included people in a variety of health care professions. These included nurses, health care executives, dentists and pharmacists. It also looked at people in professions not involving medical care. While 37 percent of non-health care employees had gone through a divorce, just 22 percent of doctors had.

Interestingly, however, the study showed that female doctors were more likely to have been through a divorce than their male counterparts. Their divorce rate was closer to that of the overall population. Long hours may be the key, as women who reported that they exceeded 40 hours a week on the job had lower divorce rates than other women. (The same was not true for the male respondents.)

The doctor who headed the study concluded that female doctors not only had to deal with long hours and stress, but took on the majority of household and childcare responsibilities as well. He recommended that female physicians not be afraid to get help with their domestic responsibilities by employing people to help out in their home and/or asking their spouses for help.

As women are increasingly taking on executive positions in all industries in addition to getting graduate degrees that are allowing them to become doctors, lawyers and scientists, there will likely be a greater emphasis on how to achieve a work/life balance. While this not always the key to a happy marriage, it may help prevent divorces that occur because women are trying to take on too much, at the expense of their marriages.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Despite The Stereotype, Study Suggests Doctors Are Not More Likely To Divorce” Rebecca Adams, Feb. 25, 2015

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