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Who has the highest risk of divorce, you or your doctor?

A study published recently in The BMJ dispels the widely-held belief job pressures cause doctors marriages to fail. In fact, researchers learned doctors were less like to divorce than many of their counterparts. The study's lead author is a Harvard Medical School assistant professor and Massachusetts General Hospital physician assistant.

Doctors' divorce rates were lower than all other medical professionals, except pharmacists. Physicians also divorced slightly less often than lawyers -- attorneys were compared due to similarities in income and education. Perhaps the most surprising revelation: non-health care professionals divorced at a rate that was significantly higher than health care providers and attorneys.

The study was based on census figures gleaned from the American Community Survey including 59,000 attorneys, 250,000 medical professionals and over 6 million non-health care employees. The divorce rate, including past and current divorces, among non-professionals was the highest at 35 percent. Twenty-seven of attorneys and 24 percent of physicians were divorced.

Female doctors, surgeons and psychiatrists had the highest rates among doctors. Long workdays negatively affected rates for female physicians but had the opposite effect upon male doctors' divorce rate. Massachusetts researchers suggested "work-life balance" issues, less common among males, may have created additional stress for female physicians.

Within the medical community, 23 percent of pharmacists were or had been divorced. Dentists fared slightly worse at 25 percent. Thirty-one percent of executives in the health care profession were divorced, as were 33 percent of nurses.

Divorce statistics allow us to observe patterns in society, which can lead to revisions or complete changes in family laws. However, the truth about any marriage or divorce doesn't come from similarities between groups of people. The experiences happen at an individual level.

Laws and courts provide guidance during divorce, so spouses with any education, income or skill level can resolve personal matters of child custody, support and property division.

Source: The Washington Post, "Divorce among doctors isn’t as common as you think, study finds" Elahe Izadi, Feb. 19, 2015

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