Work satisfaction, career preferences and unpaid household work among recently graduated health-care professionals – a gender perspective


Ann Öhman, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Umeå University, SE-901 85 Umea, Sweden.


Aim:  This study investigated perceptions of recently graduated health-care professionals towards healthcare work, preferences for future careers, work organisation and management. In addition, it scrutinised the impact of unpaid household work on work satisfaction using a gender theoretical analysis.

Method:  A questionnaire was distributed to 1035 nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists who graduated in the semester of spring 1999 in Sweden. The response rate was 81% and the respondents represent 3338 graduates. When estimating proportions and means, sampling weights reflecting the sampling design were used.

Results:  Among both men and women, there was a high satisfaction with work in general, but a great dissatisfaction with work management and organisation. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed a significant association between dissatisfaction with the work organisation and age groups and type of employment among the women. Younger women were more dissatisfied than older, and public employees were more dissatisfied than private employees. The women in the study did more unpaid household work than the men did. The data suggest that this can be of importance for the dissatisfaction at work, although this was not statistically significant. Working conditions and career preferences differ between the three professions as well as among men and women in the same profession. Geriatrics was not a preferred area for future work, although it is an area with predicted increasing personnel needs in the future. The results are discussed in relation to future needs for health-care personnel, gender and organisation theory.

Conclusions:  Because of the predicted scarcity of health-care personnel in Sweden, it is of importance that healthcare organisations address the issues of work satisfaction as well as possible competence drain. Gender equality in terms of working conditions is another important aspect that needs to be highlighted.