Assessing Physician Job Satisfaction and Mental Workload
AbstractPhysician job satisfaction and mental workload were evaluated in a pilot study of five physicians engaged in a telemedicine practice at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Electronic Health Network. Several previous studies have examined physician satisfaction with specific telemedicine applications; however, few have attempted to identify the underlying factors that contribute to physician satisfaction or lack thereof. One factor that has been found to affect well-being and functionality in the workplace—particularly with regard to human interaction with complex systems and tasks as seen in telemedicine—is mental workload. Workload is generally defined as the “cost” to a person for performing a complex task or tasks; however, prior to this study, it was unexplored as a variable that influences physician satisfaction. Two measures of job satisfaction were used: The Job Descriptive Index and the Job In General scales. Mental workload was evaluated by means of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index. The measures were administered by means of Web-based surveys and were given twice over a 6-month period. Nonparametric statistical analyses revealed that physician job satisfaction was generally high relative to that of the general population and other professionals. Mental workload scores associated with the practice of telemedicine in this environment are also high, and appeared stable over time. In addition, they are commensurate with scores found in individuals practicing tasks with elevated information-processing demands, such as quality control engineers and air traffic controllers. No relationship was found between the measures of job satisfaction and mental workload.