Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among specialists within the public and private health sectors

Toni Ashton*, Paul M. Brown, Elizaveta (Liza) Sopina, Linda Cameron, Timothy Tenbensel, John Windsor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aim As in many countries, medical and surgical specialists in New Zealand have the opportunity of working in the public sector, the private sector or both. This study aimed to explore the level and sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction of specialists in New Zealand with working in the two sectors. Such information can assist workforce planning, management and policy and may inform the wider debate about the relationship between the two sectors. Method A postal survey was conducted of 1983 registered specialists throughout New Zealand. Respondents were asked to assess 14 sources of satisfaction and 9 sources of dissatisfaction according to a 5-point Likert scale. Means and standard deviations were calculated for the total sample, and for procedural and non-procedural specialties. Differences between the means of each source of satisfaction and dissatisfaction were also calculated. Results Completed surveys were received from 943 specialists (47% response rate). Overall mean levels of satisfaction were higher in the private sector than the public sector while levels of dissatisfaction were lower. While the public system is valued for its opportunities for further education and professional development, key sources of dissatisfaction are workload pressures, mentally demanding work and managerial interference. In the private sector specialists value the opportunity to work independently and apply their own ideas in the workplace. Conclusion Sources of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction amongst specialists are different for the public and private sectors. Allowing specialists more freedom to work independently and to apply their own ideas in the workplace may enhance recruitment and retention of specialists in the public health system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Zealand Medical Journal (Online)
Issue number1383
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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