How high is the divorce rate among physicians?

If asked to identify the professions with the highest divorce rates, there’s a good chance most people would list occupations like emergency responder, attorney and, of course, physician.

The reasons for identifying physicians as top candidates for divorce would likely stem from the belief that their high levels of stress, long hours and arduous schedules would somehow put greater strain on their marriages.

As it turns out, however, a recent study has found that the divorce rate among physicians may actually be far lower than people might believe.

What did the study measure?

The study, published in the most recent online edition of the journal The BMJ, set out to compare the divorce rates of physicians with professionals, including dentists, nurses, pharmacists, health-care executives, attorneys and non-health-care professionals.

Specifically, it used demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks questions about divorce. The divorce rates of a group of roughly 250,000 physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, health-care executives were examined, as well as the divorce rates of 59,000 attorneys and 6.3 million non-health-care professionals.

What did the study find?

The study authors determined, after adjusting for various factors, that physicians had a divorce rate of 24 percent, trailing only pharmacists who had a divorce rate of 23 percent.

The divorce rates for the other professions under study were as follows: 33 percent for nurses, 25 percent for dentists, 31 percent for health-care executives, 27 percent for attorneys, and 35 percent for non-health-care professionals.

Did they determine why the divorce rate was so much lower among physicians than traditionally thought?  

No. However, they did find that female physicians are more likely to divorce than their male counterparts, something they attribute to female physicians being forced to make more difficult choices concerning the balance of their professional and domestic lives.

If you are a professional who is considering a divorce and would like to learn more about issues like property division, alimony or child custody, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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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