The reference panel polled by the Institute for Studies of the Medical Profession (LEFO) is a sample of approximately 1 600 practising doctors who have been asked to complete a questionnaire on 12 occasions since 1994. The sample represents an imbalanced cohort in that respondents who leave the panel are replaced by younger doctors, while the sample’s representative nature is maintained at all times.
The reference panel was expanded by approximately 400 doctors in 2000, 250 doctors in 2008 and 270 doctors in 2012. A total of 590 doctors were removed from the panel due to retirement, voluntary redundancy or death. This article is based on data from 1994, 2000, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Main job categories and medical disciplines
The main jobs have been split into eight different groups:
Group 1: doctors in hospital management positions (medical superintendent, head of department, chief senior consultant, head of unit, senior consultant, head of section)
Group 2: senior hospital consultants and specialty registrars
Group 3: general practitioners
Group 4: specialists working in private practice
Group 5: community medical officers (district medical officer, senior district medical officer, nursing home medical officer, visiting medical officer, doctor at infant welfare clinic, community general practitioner)
Group 6: doctors in academia (professor, associate professor, research fellow, researcher)
Group 7: doctors in administrative positions (county medical officer, medical advisor, chief medical officer)
Group 8: other key job categories (occupational health practitioner, senior registrar consultant)
There are 45 approved medical disciplines in Norway. Doctors specify which of these they are currently working in. The disciplines are divided into five groups:
Group 1: general (internal) medicine disciplines (general practice, paediatrics, haematology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, geriatrics, cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine, communicable diseases, respiratory medicine, neurology, oncology, nephrology, rheumatology)
Group 2: surgical disciplines (anaesthesiology, paediatric surgery, cardiothoracic and endocrine surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, gastroenterological surgery, general surgery, vascular surgery, maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, thoracic surgery, urology, otorhinolaryngology, opthalmology)
Group 3: laboratory disciplines (immunology and transfusion medicine, clinical pharmacology, clinical neurophysiology, medical biochemistry, medical genetics, medical microbiology, nuclear medicine, pathology, radiology)
Group 4: psychiatry (psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, substance abuse and addiction medicine, community medicine)
Group 5: other
Similar questions about time spent have been included in all questionnaires issued throughout the period. The doctors were asked to specify the number of hours spent on various activities in a working week; they were then asked to add up the hours to arrive at a total number of working hours per week. Some adjustments were made in the period, but the question about the number of hours spent on direct patient care, and total working hours per week, remained the same throughout.
In 2014 the question was worded as follows: «In an average working week, including shift work and any part-time job(s), approximately how many hours do you spend: on patient care (all direct contact with individual patients or their relatives, including phone calls, etc.); in meetings (interdisciplinary team meetings, patient case meetings, guidance meetings, etc.); on paper work, phone calls, emailing, data-recording (patient records, certificates, discharge summaries, other documentation); professional updating; other; and in total.