Impact of organizational leadership on physician burnout and satisfaction

Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Apr;90(4):432-40. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.01.012. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of organizational leadership on the professional satisfaction and burnout of individual physicians working for a large health care organization.

Participants and methods: We surveyed physicians and scientists working for a large health care organization in October 2013. Validated tools were used to assess burnout. Physicians also rated the leadership qualities of their immediate supervisor in 12 specific dimensions on a 5-point Likert scale. All supervisors were themselves physicians/scientists. A composite leadership score was calculated by summing scores for the 12 individual items (range, 12-60; higher scores indicate more effective leadership).

Results: Of the 3896 physicians surveyed, 2813 (72.2%) responded. Supervisor scores in each of the 12 leadership dimensions and composite leadership score strongly correlated with the burnout and satisfaction scores of individual physicians (all P<.001). On multivariate analysis adjusting for age, sex, duration of employment at Mayo Clinic, and specialty, each 1-point increase in composite leadership score was associated with a 3.3% decrease in the likelihood of burnout (P<.001) and a 9.0% increase in the likelihood of satisfaction (P<.001) of the physicians supervised. The mean composite leadership rating of each division/department chair (n=128) also correlated with the prevalence of burnout (correlation=-0.330; r(2)=0.11; P<.001) and satisfaction (correlation=0.684; r(2)=0.47; P<.001) at the division/department level.

Conclusion: The leadership qualities of physician supervisors appear to impact the well-being and satisfaction of individual physicians working in health care organizations. These findings have important implications for the selection and training of physician leaders and provide new insights into organizational factors that affect physician well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Institutional Practice / organization & administration*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Management
  • Physician Executives / psychology*