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The relationship between leadership and physician well-being: a scoping review

Authors Montgomery AJ

Received 4 June 2016

Accepted for publication 19 September 2016

Published 31 October 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 71—80

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JHL.S93896

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Thomas Bart

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Russell Taichman


Anthony J Montgomery

Department of Education and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Abstract: To date, research has established the individual and organizational factors that impair well-being. Thus, we are aware of the organizational “cogs and wheels” that drive well-being, and there is a sense that we can potentially utilize effective leadership to push and pull these in the appropriate directions. However, reviews of leadership in health care point to the lack of academic rigor and difficulty in reaching solid conclusions. Conversely, there is an accepted belief that the most important determinant of the development and maintenance of cultures is current – and future – leadership. Thus, leadership is assumed to be an important element of organizational functioning without the requisite evidence base. Medicine is a unique organizational environment in which the health of physicians may be a significant risk factor for inadequate patient safety and suboptimal care. Globally, physicians are reporting increasing levels of job burnout, especially among younger physicians in training. Not surprisingly, higher levels of physician burnout are associated with suboptimal care for patients and medical error, as well as maladaptive coping strategies among physicians that serve to exacerbate the former. This review is a scoping analysis of the existing literature to address the central question: is there a relationship between organizational leadership and physician well-being? The objectives of the review are as follows: 1) identify the degree to which physician health is under threat; 2) ­evaluate the evidence linking leadership with physician well-being; 3) identify alternative ways to approach the problem; and 4) outline avenues for future research. Finally, enhancing progress in the field is discussed in the contexts of theory, methodology, and impact.

Keywords: leadership, physician well being, burnout, healthcare, quality of care, patient safety

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