Factors Associated With a Positive View of Respiratory Care Leadership

Respir Care. 2022 Oct;67(10):1236-1245. doi: 10.4187/respcare.10081. Epub 2022 Jun 14.


Background: Burnout within health care is prevalent, and its effects are detrimental to patient outcomes, organizations, and individuals. Effects stemming from burnout include anxiety, depression, excessive alcohol and drug use, cardiovascular problems, time off work, and worse patient outcomes. Published data have suggested up to 50% of health care workers experience burnout and 79% of respiratory therapists (RTs) experience burnout. Leadership has been cited as a key driver of burnout among RTs. We aimed to identify factors associated with a positive or negative leadership perception.

Methods: A post hoc analysis of an institutional review board-approved survey to evaluate RT burnout, administered via REDCap by convenience sample to 26 health care centers (3,124 potential respondents) from January 17-March 15, 2021, was performed to identify factors associated with a positive view of leadership. Survey questions included validated tools to measure leadership, burnout, staffing, COVID-19 exposure, and demographics. Data analysis was descriptive, and logistic regression was performed to evaluate factors associated with leadership perception.

Results: Of 1,080 respondents, 710 (66%) had a positive view of leadership. Univariate analysis revealed those with a positive view of leadership were more likely to be working with adequate staffing, were rarely unable to complete all work, were less likely to be burned out, disagreed that people in this work environment were burned out, were less likely to miss work for any reason, more likely to be in a leadership position, worked fewer hours in intensive care, worked in a center affiliated with a medical school, worked day shift, were less likely to care for adult patients, and were more likely to be male. Logistic regression revealed providing care to patients with COVID-19 (odds ratio [OR] 5.8-10.5, P < .001-.006) was the only factor associated with a positive view of leadership, whereas working without adequate staffing (OR 0.27-0.28, P = .002-.006), staff RTs (OR 0.33, P < .001), work environment (OR 0.42, P = .003), missing work for any reason (OR 0.69, P = .003), and burnout score (OR 0.98, P < .001) were associated with a negative view of leadership.

Conclusions: Most RTs had a positive view of their leadership. A negative leadership score was associated with higher burnout and missing work. This relationship requires further investigation to evaluate if changes in leadership practices can improve employee well-being and reduce burnout.

Keywords: COVID-19; burnout; leadership; leadership perception; respiratory care practitioner; respiratory therapist; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce