Team-based Care and Physician Burnout

clinical implementation consultant

Can high-quality, team-based care be one of the solutions for clinician burnout?

That’s what a group of researchers wanted to understand in a recent review of the literature. While they found that the relationship is not as well-defined as the interplay between teamwork and patient outcomes, they did find compelling evidence of a connection. Here are some of the studies they found:

  • One longitudinal study of interprofessional teams in the ICU setting found a “connection between measures of high-quality teamwork and measures of clinician well-being and resilience.”
  • Another study found that team culture was more predictive of clinician emotional exhaustion than team structure.
  • A similar study found that perceptions of better team culture, alone and in combination with tight team structure, were associated with lower clinician exhaustion.
  • A Canadian study of air medical personnel found that both perceived control over one’s job and team efficacy buffered some of the workplace stressors identified by researchers, including risk perception, worries over medical hassles, and barriers to patient care.
  • A survey-based study of Taiwanese physicians supported the hypothesis that a positive team climate may mitigate physician burnout.
  • Another study found that higher levels of job engagement were associated with higher levels of teamwork, which, in turn, were associated with increased job satisfaction.
  • A study comparing health teams in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom found that team structure and job design contributed to employee well-being and that culture had a moderating effect on this impact.
  • A study of 12 primary care sites found a strong association between effective leadership, care team behaviors and perceptions, and job satisfaction.

The researchers conclude that high-functioning teams have tremendous potential to promote clinician well-being, which is foundational to effective and efficient health care, but longitudinal studies that better elucidate the relationship between high-functioning teams and clinician well-being are needed so health care organizations and practices have a clear roadmap for evidence-based implementation of team-based care.

Smith, C. D., C. Balatbat, S. Corbridge, A. L. Dopp, J. Fried, R. Harter, S. Landefeld, C. Martin, F. Opelka, L. Sandy, L. Sato, and C. Sinsky. 2018. Implementing optimal team-based care to reduce clinician burnout. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. https://nam.edu/implementing-optimal-team-based-care-to-reduce-clinician-burnout. doi: 10.31478/201809c