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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The Relationship between Social Capital in Hospitals and Physician Job Satisfaction

Oliver Ommen1*, Elke Driller1, Thorsten Köhler2, Christoph Kowalski2, Nicole Ernstmann1, Melanie Neumann1, Petra Steffen2 and Holger Pfaff12

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Health Services Research Cologne, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Eupener Str 129, 50933 Cologne, Germany

2 Department of Medical Sociology, Institute and Polyclinic for Occupational and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Eupener Str 129, 50933 Cologne, Germany

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:81  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-81

Published: 16 May 2009

Abstract

Background

Job satisfaction in the hospital is an important predictor for many significant management ratios. Acceptance in professional life or high workload are known as important predictors for job satisfaction. The influence of social capital in hospitals on job satisfaction within the health care system, however, remains to be determined. Thus, this article aimed at analysing the relationship between overall job satisfaction of physicians and social capital in hospitals.

Methods

The results of this study are based upon questionnaires sent by mail to 454 physicians working in the field of patient care in 4 different German hospitals in 2002. 277 clinicians responded to the poll, for a response rate of 61%. Analysis was performed using three linear regression models with physician overall job satisfaction as the dependent variable and age, gender, professional experience, workload, and social capital as independent variables.

Results

The first regression model explained nearly 9% of the variance of job satisfaction. Whereas job satisfaction increased slightly with age, gender and professional experience were not identified as significant factors to explain the variance. Setting up a second model with the addition of subjectively-perceived workload to the analysis, the explained variance increased to 18% and job satisfaction decreased significantly with increasing workload. The third model including social capital in hospital explained 36% of the variance with social capital, professional experience and workload as significant factors.

Conclusion

This analysis demonstrated that the social capital of an organisation, in addition to professional experience and workload, represents a significant predictor of overall job satisfaction of physicians working in the field of patient care. Trust, mutual understanding, shared aims, and ethical values are qualities of social capital that unify members of social networks and communities and enable them to act cooperatively.