Study: Organizational leadership strongly influences physician satisfaction, burnout

Burnout is pervasive in the U.S. healthcare system, with the majority of clinicians indicating a significant degree of dissatisfaction with their careers. According to a recent study from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, organizational leadership has a heavy impact on the professional satisfaction and burnout of individual physicians working for large healthcare organizations.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic surveyed 2,813 physicians and scientists working at one of Mayo Clinic's three academic medical centers or one of its 70 facilities in the Mayo Clinic Health System in October 2013 to assess their levels of burnout. Physicians also rated the leadership qualities of their immediate supervisor in 12 areas on a five-point scale. The researchers then determined a composite leadership score by adding the scores for each of the 12 items. All of the supervisors were physicians or scientists themselves.

The survey found that physicians' and scientists' supervisors' scores in each of the 12 leadership dimensions and composite leadership score were strongly correlated with the burnout and satisfaction scores of the individual physicians. Each 1-point increase in the composite leadership score was associated with a 3.3 percent decrease in the likelihood of burnout and a 9 percent increase in the likelihood of satisfaction among the physicians rating their supervisors.

The survey also found that the mean composite leadership rating of each division or department chair was also correlated with the prevalence of burnout and satisfaction at the division/department level.

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