Health care professionals' motivation, their behaviors, and the quality of hospital care: A mixed-methods systematic review

Health Care Manage Rev. 2022 Apr-Jun;47(2):155-167. doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000284.


Background: Health care professionals' work motivation is assumed to be crucial for the quality of hospital care, but it is unclear which type of motivation ought to be stimulated to improve quality. Motivation and similar concepts are aligned along a motivational continuum that ranges from (intrinsic) autonomous motivation to (extrinsic) controlled motivation to provide a framework for this mixed-methods systematic review.

Purpose: This mixed-methods systematic review aims to link various types of health care professionals' motivation directly and through their work-related behaviors to quality of care.

Methods: Six databases were searched from January 1990 to August 2016. Qualitative and quantitative studies were included if they reported on work motivation in relationship to work behavior and/or quality, and study participants were health care professionals working in hospitals in high-income countries. Study bias was evaluated using the Standard Quality Assessment Criteria for Evaluating Primary Research Papers from a Variety of Fields. The review protocol was registered in the PROSPERO database (CRD42016043284).

Results: A total of 84 out of 6,525 unique records met the inclusion criteria. Results show that health care professionals' autonomous motivation improves their quality perceptions and work-related behaviors. Controlled motivation inhibits voicing behavior, but when balanced with autonomous motivation, it stimulates core task and proactive behavior. Proactivity is associated with increased quality of care perceptions.

Practice implications: To improve quality of care, policy makers and managers need to support health care professionals' autonomous motivation and recognize and facilitate proactivity as an essential part of health care professionals' jobs. Incentive-based quality improvements need to be complemented with aspects that stimulate autonomous motivation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Motivation*