Background: Hospital statistics show increased pre-pensioning and sickness absence among physicians in Sweden. In addition, female physicians experience unconstructive work conditions, inequality of pay, and less career advancement than their male counterparts in university hospitals despite increased share of women in medical education. Signs of ill-health among physicians might have severe consequences for people involved, patients, hospital economy and for health service provided. HOUPE is a research collaboration between four University Hospitals in Europe; Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, St Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim and University Hospital Azienda Ospedaliera, Padova.
Objective: In 2002 national research groups anchored at four University Hospitals in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Italy started a comprehensive research program abbreviated: The HOUPE project intended to provide a systematic comparison of university hospitals in Europe and how the structure and organization of these hospitals affected the research activity, work load, work satisfaction, gender equality, career advancement, health, and wellbeing of physicians. Next phase in our longitudinal design will include the university hospital in Budapest, Hungary.
Funding: Medical Association in Iceland and Sweden, SLS - Swedish Physician Society, NorFA, Vinnova, Stockholm City Council, the four University Hospitals.
Method: Three level of data collection were executed: Document analysis concerning national frameworks, register data/hospital statistics and a cross sectional survey in 2005/2006 (N = 2095/3867) among permanently employed university hospital physicians in each country.
Results: Numerous research projects are scheduled in each country based on these data in different national research project. Preliminary results will be presented based on these ongoing analyzes on differences in the prevalence of harassment level, suicide ideation, hospitals emphasize of clinical research, and the tension between work load and interaction between career and role as caregivers at home, inequality of pay between men and women, and between medical and academic position.
Intervention and prevention: Survey feedback seminars (Fridner & Pingel, 2006) with physicians in each clinic and Occupational Stress Index (OSI) for physicians (Belkic, 2003).
Conclusions: The lack of studies that address organisational and psychosocial work conditions for physicians in Iceland and Italy makes HOUPE data important for this purpose. Numerous research projects were scheduled in each country based on these data. In addition, HOUPE data will be able to identify existing practices in management systems of university hospitals and trough comparison between the university hospitals highlight best practice.