In 2017, the doctors' duty to attend to their own health was included in the universal doctors' pledge (1). Taking care of one's own health becomes more difficult when conflicts arise between the doctor's role as a professional and as a private individual (2–5). A recent study discusses how the doctors' professional culture may help spur this conflict (6). 'The good doctor' feels a strong commitment to completing all work duties and describes the difficulties involved in balancing this against domestic responsibilities. Job-related burdens that affect the situation at home, so-called work-home interface stress, increase the risk of burn-out, depressive symptoms, poor quality of life, troubled partner relationships and a desire to change jobs (5). A Norwegian study has shown that reducing this type of stress is a key measure to improve the situation for burned-out doctors (7). This finding is supported by a study showing that work-home interface stress has a strong bearing on the risk of burn-out among Norwegian doctors, and among women in particular (8).
Norwegian doctors report increases in unacceptable workloads (9, 10). Altogether 40 % experience stress associated with constant reorganisations (10), such as the GP reform (2001), the hospital reform (2002), the Capital City project (2009) and the Coordination Reform (2012), on top of local restructuring processes. We can increasingly observe how doctors, especially young female doctors, seek help because of heavy workloads and large responsibilities (11, 12).
Better work-home balance was a key topic when the hospital doctors went on strike in 2016. The decision by the Labour Court of Norway in 2017 was probably the first time, even internationally, that doctors obtained legal support for the importance of having a private life.
In 2018, a majority of the doctors working in Norway were women, and the proportion of women is increasing (13). Moreover, since a growing number of doctors also have partners with their own careers (14), the work-home balance is further challenged for both genders. In Norway, we find smaller gender differences in work-home interface stress than what is seen internationally (15, 16). However, we do find gender differences in ways of coping with stress: women reduce their working hours to a greater extent than men (17).
With an increasing proportion of female doctors and a growing number of doctors with partners who are also working, we wished to study the development of work-home interface stress. Because this development can also be affected by factors such as number of children, the doctors' weekly working hours and the social support they receive from partners and colleagues, we wished to include these factors.