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Study finds differences in divorce among male and female doctors

How much does job stress play a role in marital distress? Do long hours equate to an increased chance of divorce? At first glance, many may be inclined to say yes, long hours and a stressful work environment do negatively affect a marriage. However, a recent study looking at the divorce rate among doctors -- who tend to work long stressful hours -- found that this is not always the case, but that the divorce rate is higher among female doctors.

According to the study, while divorce among doctors is lower than divorce among some other professionals, the rate is higher for female doctors than male doctors. The senior author of the study says this finding points to the fact that many female doctors have to make tough work-life balance choices that many male doctors simply do not have to make.

It is important to understand the specifics of this study though. Researchers analyzed data from the American Community Survey. This data focused on approximately 250,000 physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists. Executives in the health care industry were also included in the data. Additional data on 59,000 lawyers -- who are also known for working long hours -- and 6.3 million professionals not in the health care industry was also analyzed.

According to the study, doctors have about a 24 percent chance of divorce. Those non-health care industry professionals have around a 35 percent chance for divorce. However, as noted earlier, there was a noticeable difference between male and female doctors, with female doctors having a higher rate of divorce. 

In talking about this study, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first being that even though trends have been identified, there are still plenty of doctors -- male and female -- who end up getting a divorce. And while the demands of their professions may play a role, the issues affecting a marriage are unique to a couple. What may affect one marriage may not affect another. When choosing a divorce attorney, it is important to retain someone who will look at the big picture and the uniqueness of a couple's situation before making recommendations.

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