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Characteristics of Health Care Organizations Associated With Clinician Trust: Results From the Healthy Work Place Study.

TitleCharacteristics of Health Care Organizations Associated With Clinician Trust: Results From the Healthy Work Place Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLinzer M, Poplau S, Prasad K, Khullar D, Brown R, Varkey A, Yale S, Grossman E, Williams E, Sinsky C
Corporate AuthorsHealthy Work Place Investigators
JournalJAMA Netw Open
Date Published2019 06 05

Importance: There is new emphasis on clinician trust in health care organizations but little empirical data about the association of trust with clinician satisfaction and retention.

Objective: To examine organizational characteristics associated with trust.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study uses data collected from 2012 to 2014 from 34 primary care practices employing physicians (family medicine and general internal medicine) and advanced practice clinicians (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) in the upper Midwest and East Coast of the United States as part of the Healthy Work Place randomized clinical trial. Analyses were performed from 2015 to 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Clinician trust was measured using a 5-item scale, including belonging, loyalty, safety focus, sense of trust, and responsibility to clinicians in need (range, 1-4, with 1 indicating low and 4 indicating high; Cronbach α = 0.77). Other metrics included work control, work atmosphere (calm to chaotic), organizational culture (cohesiveness, emphases on quality and communication, and values alignment; range, 1-4, with 1 indicating low and 4 indicating high), and clinician stress (range, 1-5, with 1 indicating low and 5 indicating high), satisfaction (range, 1-5, with 1 indicating low and 4 indicating high), burnout (range, 1-5, with 1 indicating no burnout and 5 indicating very high feeling of burnout), and intention to leave (range, 1-5, with 1 indicating no intention to leave and 5 indicating definite intention to leave). Analyses included 2-level hierarchical modeling controlling for age, sex, specialty, and clinician type. Cohen d effect sizes (ESs) were considered small at 0.20, moderate at 0.50, and large at 0.80 or more.

Results: The study included 165 clinicians (mean [SD] age, 47.3 [9.2] years; 86 [52.1%] women). Of these, 143 (87.7%) were physicians and 22 (13.3%) were advanced practice clinicians; 105 clinicians (63.6%) worked in family medicine, and 60 clinicians (36.4%) worked in internal medicine. Compared with clinicians with low levels of trust, clinicians who reported high levels of trust had higher mean (SD) scores for work control (2.49 [0.52] vs 2.18 [0.45]; P < .001), cohesiveness (3.11 [0.46] vs 2.51 [0.51]; P < .001), emphasis on quality vs productivity (3.12 [0.48] vs 2.58 [0.41]; P < .001), emphasis on communication (3.39 [0.41] vs 3.01 [0.44]; P < .001), and values alignment (2.61 [0.59] vs 2.12 [0.52]; P < .001). Men were more likely than women to express loyalty (ES, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.05-0.66; P = .02) and high trust (ES, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.01-0.62; P = .04). Compared with clinicians with low trust at baseline, clinicians with high trust at baseline had a higher mean (SD) satisfaction score (3.99 [0.08] vs 3.51 [0.07]; P < .001; ES, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.39-1.02). Compared with clinicians in whom trust declined or remained low, clinicians with improved or stable high trust reported higher mean (SD) satisfaction (4.01 [0.07] vs 3.43 [0.06]; P < .001; ES, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.66-1.31) and lower stress (3.21 [0.09] vs 3.53 [0.09]; P = .02; ES, -0.39; 95% CI, -0.70 to -0.08) scores and had approximately half the odds of intending to leave (odds ratio, 0.481; 95% CI, 0.241-0.957; P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance: Addressing low levels of trust by improving work control and emphasizing quality, cohesion, communication, and values may improve clinician satisfaction, stress, and retention.

Alternate JournalJAMA Netw Open
PubMed ID31225894
PubMed Central IDPMC6593631
Health Policy & Economics
Faculty Publication