Physician families have experienced significant changes in the last half century as the rise of female physicians has resulted in an increase in the number of dual physician couples. The present research is a qualitative study of dual physician couples (N = 32). A social exchange framework is used to conceptualize the costs and rewards that dual physician couples experience with regards to work and family domains. A constructivist grounded theory was used as a theory of methodology so that findings were grounded in the data. Results of this study showed that couples tended to struggle for what was important regarding the competing demands they faced yet, felt that their relationships were favorable when compared with their peers. Also it was found that couples tended to provide each other with empathy and that this resulted in their giving each other license to work as physicians with a less negative impact to the relationship. Theoretical analysis revealed that couples tended to experience confusing exchanges in which physician characteristics made it challenging to assess the costs and rewards of their relationship. This study has implications for theory and research as it incorporates family theory and analysis into the literature on dual physician families. Further, it incorporates qualitative research, which was suggested as necessary in previous studies. Lastly, it has implications for policy affecting physician work life environment and best practice intervention with these families.

LLU Discipline

Family Studies


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Fox, Curtis A.

Second Advisor

Chand, Ian P.

Third Advisor

Montgomery, Susanne

Fourth Advisor

Wilson, Colwick M.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2012

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Communication in the family; Marriage; Interpersonal relationships; Dual-career couples; Marriage roles

Subject - Local

Dual-Physician Couples; Social exchange framework; Constructivist grounded theory



Page Count

121 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives