Centralizing the special health care and decreasing on-call work in primary health care have changed physicians’ work in the Finnish public sector. Physicians have reported increasing caseload and job demands during the latest years. On the other hand, physicians working solely in on-call work may work shorter hours. On-call duties, similarly to any night shift work, include sustained wakefulness and recurrent circadian rhythm re-alignments. Nationally, the advantages and disadvantages of different on-call schedules have not been studied in large scale.

The aim of the study

First sub-study will explore the associations of physicians’ total working hours and on-call duty arrangements with sickness absence and occupational injuries using retrospective registry data (2008–2018) from 13 hospital districts.

Second sub-study will explore the associations of total working time and on-call duties with perceived well-being at work among hospital physicians in four hospital districts.

The study population

As a whole, the study population includes majority of Finnish hospital physicians.

Sub-study 1 gathers actual working hours and on-call hours from employers´ electronical registries from 13 hospital districts. This data also includes all absences, enabling identification of sickness absences (without diagnosis). The data will be collected retrospectively from the time that the used software versions make it possible (up to 1.1.2008–31.12.2018). Data will be supplemented with occupational injury information from Workers´ Compensation Centre registry data including the date, site and cause of occupational injury (e.g. pinprick).

Sub-study 2 explores physicians’ working times and well-being at work by combining the objective working hour data with survey responses from the four hospital districts that participated the Finnish Public Sector study in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Dissemination of the research results

This project gathers -for the first time- physicians´ actual working hours including on-call hours. The project answers to the need of reliable information on physicians total working hours and on-call hours and their association with well-being at work outcomes.

The research results will be published in physicians’ trade journal (in Finnish) and in peer-reviewed international scientific journals (in English). Based on the results, national guidelines on physicians’ on-call work will be implemented. The main results will be published in FIOH´s web pages and social media accounts. A press release will also be delivered.




The Finnish Work Environment Fund and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health