A Systematic Review of the Impact of Physicians' Occupational Well-Being on the Quality of Patient Care

Int J Behav Med. 2015 Dec;22(6):683-98. doi: 10.1007/s12529-015-9473-3.


Background: It is widely held that the occupational well-being of physicians may affect the quality of their patient care. Yet, there is still no comprehensive synthesis of the evidence on this connection.

Purpose: This systematic review studied the effect of physicians' occupational well-being on the quality of patient care.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, Embase, and PsychINFO from inception until August 2014. Two authors independently reviewed the studies. Empirical studies that explored the association between physicians' occupational well-being and patient care quality were considered eligible. Data were systematically extracted on study design, participants, measurements, and findings. The Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI) was used to assess study quality.

Results: Ultimately, 18 studies were included. Most studies employed an observational design and were of average quality. Most studies reported positive associations of occupational well-being with patient satisfaction, patient adherence to treatment, and interpersonal aspects of patient care. Studies reported conflicting findings for occupational well-being in relation to technical aspects of patient care. One study found no association between occupational well-being and patient health outcomes.

Conclusions: The association between physicians' occupational well-being and health care's ultimate goal-improved patient health-remains understudied. Nonetheless, research up till date indicated that physicians' occupational well-being can contribute to better patient satisfaction and interpersonal aspects of care. These insights may help in shaping the policies on physicians' well-being and quality of care.

Keywords: Job satisfaction; Occupational well-being; Patient satisfaction; Physicians; Quality of patient care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Patient Care* / psychology
  • Patient Care* / standards
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Quality Improvement