Peer comparisons hurt physician well-being, study says

Comparing physicians' performance against each other can detrimentally affect their wellbeing and job satisfaction, according to a July 14 study in PNAS.

The study involved almost 200 primary care physicians at UCLA Health, with the physicians split into three groups. All three groups received monthly performance emails, with one group receiving information comparing their performance against their peers, another group receiving peer comparisons and leadership training and the last group receiving no peer comparisons. The researchers then measured physicians' well-being and job satisfaction.

They found that adding peer comparisons significantly decreased job satisfaction and increased burnout. However those with the peer comparison and leadership training had higher job satisfaction and lower burnout than the physicians who received peer comparison alone. 

"Our research uncovers a critical potential downside of peer comparison interventions, highlights the importance of evaluating the psychological costs of behavioral interventions and points to how a complementary intervention — leadership support training — can mitigate these costs," the researchers wrote. 

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