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Assessment of the Association of Leadership Behaviors of Supervising Physicians With Personal-Organizational Values Alignment Among Staff Physicians.

Shanafelt TD, Wang H, Leonard M, Hawn M, McKenna Q, Majzun R, Minor L, Trockel M. Assessment of the Association of Leadership Behaviors of Supervising Physicians With Personal-Organizational Values Alignment Among Staff Physicians. JAMA Network Open. 2021 Feb 1; 4(2):e2035622.

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Importance: Although misalignment of values between physicians and their organization is associated with increased risk of burnout, actionable organizational factors that contribute to perceived values alignment are poorly understood. Objective: To evaluate the association between the leadership behaviors of immediate supervisors and physicians' perception of personal-organizational values alignment. Design, Setting, and Participants: This survey study of faculty physicians and physician leaders at Stanford University School of Medicine was conducted from April 1 to May 13, 2019. The survey included assessments of perceived personal-organizational values alignment, professional fulfillment, and burnout. Physicians also evaluated the leadership behaviors of their immediate supervisor (eg, division chief) using a standardized assessment. Data analysis was performed from May to December 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Association between mean leadership behavior score (range, 0-10) of each supervisor and the mean personal-organizational values alignment scores (range, 0-12) for the physicians in their work unit. Results: Of 1924 physicians eligible to participate, 1285 (67%) returned surveys. Among these, 651 (51%) were women and 729 (57%) were aged 40 years or older. Among the 117 physician leaders evaluated, 66 (56%) had their leadership behavior independently evaluated by at least 5 physicians and were included in analyses. The mean (SD) personal-organizational values alignment score on the 0 to 12 scale was 6.19 (3.21). As the proportion of work effort devoted to clinical care increased, values alignment scores decreased. Personal-organizational values alignment scores demonstrated an inverse correlation with burnout (r = -0.39; P < .001) and a positive correlation with professional fulfillment (r = 0.52; P < .001). The aggregate leader behavior score of the 66 leaders evaluated correlated with the mean values alignment score for physicians in their work unit (r = 0.53; P < .001). Aggregate leader behavior score was associated with 21.6% of the variation in personal-organizational values alignment scores between work units. After adjusting for age, gender, academic rank, work hours, physician-leader gender concordance, and time devoted to clinical care, each 1-point increase in leadership score of immediate supervisor was associated with a 0.56-point (95% CI, 0.46-0.66; P < .001) increase in personal-organizational values alignment score. Conclusions and Relevance: This survey study's results suggest that physicians experience their organization through the prism of their work unit leader. Organizational efforts to improve values alignment should attend to the development of first-line physician leaders.

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