Occupational determinants of successful aging in older physicians

Chanaka Wijeratne*, Carmelle Peisah, Joanne Earl, Georgina Luscombe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Demographic, physical and psychological associations of successful aging (SA) have been evaluated, but occupational factors have not. Nor has SA been evaluated in a specific occupational group. The aims of this study were to examine the occupational associations of SA in older physicians, and to explore the concept of occupational SA. Methods: Physicians aged 55+ years completed self-ratings of occupational and personal SA on a 10-point visual analogue scale (VAS; 1 being "least successful" and 10 "most successful"). Associations between occupational and personal SA (defined as 8-10 on the VAS), respectively, and demographic and practice characteristics; health; social and financial resources; cognitive, emotional and motivational resources; work centrality; and anxiety about aging were examined. Results: Rates of occupational SA (69.2%; 95% CI: 66.3-72.0) were significantly higher than personal SA (63.1%; 95% CI: 60.1-66.0) in the sample of 1,048 physicians. Occupational and personal SA were strongly positively correlated (r = 0.73, N = 1,041, p < 0.001). Personal SA was predicted by demographic (older age, female, international medical graduate, urban practice), physical (better self-rated health), psychological (less depression, better cognitive, emotional and motivational resources, and greater anxiety about aging), and occupational (higher work centrality, fewer practice adaptations and not intending to retire) factors. Conclusions: Occupational factors are central to physicians' self-conceptualization of SA. That greater work centrality, fewer work adaptations and less retirement planning were associated with personal SA suggests older physicians' sense of "success" is intertwined with continuing practice. There is a need for educating physicians to adapt to aging and retirement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • physician health
  • successful aging
  • occupational
  • retirement


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