Purpose: Physician work engagement is associated with better work performance and fewer medical errors; however, whether work-engaged physicians perform better from the patient perspective is unknown. Although availability of job resources (autonomy, colleague support, participation in decision making, opportunities for learning) bolster work engagement, this relationship is understudied among physicians. This study investigated associations of physician work engagement with patient care experience and job resources in an academic setting.
Method: The authors collected patient care experience evaluations, using nine validated items from the Dutch Consumer Quality index in two academic hospitals (April 2014 to April 2015). Physicians reported job resources and work engagement using, respectively, the validated Questionnaire on Experience and Evaluation of Work and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale. The authors conducted multivariate adjusted mixed linear model and linear regression analyses.
Results: Of the 9,802 eligible patients and 238 eligible physicians, respectively, 4,573 (47%) and 185 (78%) participated. Physician work engagement was not associated with patient care experience (B = 0.01; 95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.02 to 0.03; P = .669). However, learning opportunities (B = 0.28; 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.52; P = .019) and autonomy (B = 0.31; 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.51; P = .004) were positively associated with work engagement.
Conclusions: Higher physician work engagement did not translate into better patient care experience. Patient experience may benefit from physicians who deliver stable quality under varying levels of work engagement. From the physicians' perspective, autonomy and learning opportunities could safeguard their work engagement.