The impact of leadership training programs on physicians in academic medical centers: a systematic review

Acad Med. 2013 May;88(5):710-23. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828af493.


Purpose: To identify the impact of leadership training programs at academic medical centers (AMCs) on physicians' knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes.

Method: In 2011, the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature, identifying relevant studies by searching electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register), scanning reference lists, and consulting experts. They deemed eligible any qualitative or quantitative study reporting on the implementation and evaluation of a leadership program for physicians in AMCs. Two independent reviewers conducted the review, screening studies, abstracting data, and assessing quality.

Results: The authors initially identified 2,310 citations. After the screening process, they had 11 articles describing 10 studies. Three were controlled before-and-after studies, four were before-and-after case series, and three were cross-sectional surveys. The authors did not conduct a meta-analysis because of the methodological heterogeneity across studies. Although all studies were at substantial risk of bias, the highest-quality ones showed that leadership training programs affected participants' advancement in academic rank (48% versus 21%, P=.005) and hospital leadership position (30% versus 9%, P=.008) and that participants were more successful in publishing papers (3.5 per year versus 2.1 per year, P<.001) compared with nonparticipants.

Conclusions: The authors concluded that leadership programs have modest effects on outcomes important to AMCs. Given AMCs' substantial investment in these programs, rigorous evaluation of their impact is essential. High-quality studies, including qualitative research, will allow the community to identify which programs are most effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Education, Continuing*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Professional Competence