NSC Business and Industry Division news NSC Labor Division news Research/studies Worker health and wellness Leadership Worker Health and Wellness Health Care Workers

Leadership walkarounds can help curb burnout in health care: study

Photo: sturti/iStockphoto

Durham, NC — Health care organization leaders can help limit worker burnout by conducting “positive leadership walkarounds,” results of a recent study suggest.

Researchers from Duke University looked at the university’s Health System’s practice, in which senior leaders ask staff members about their work and well-being, and analyzed data from more than 10,600 survey results – from nearly 400 work settings – that included respondents’ recollection of exposure to positive leadership walkarounds, along with measures of well-being and safety culture.

Around 63% of the respondents reported being included in the practice.

The researchers compared the settings that had less than a 50% exposure to positive leadership walkarounds, or the fourth quartile, with those that had 88% or greater exposure, or the first quartile.

Respondents from the first quartile had lower percentages of reported emotional exhaustion in themselves (32.4% vs. 45.9%) and in colleagues (47.7% vs. 60.5%). They also reported a higher percentage of favorable responses related to work-life balance, teamwork, readiness to engage in quality improvement and leadership accessibility/feedback.


Around half of health care professionals in the United States experience “substantial symptoms” of burnout, the researchers write in an editorial. They add in a press release that the findings are “promising” and “an important reminder about the role of leaders at all levels of the organization in preventing and mitigating health professional burnout.”

The study was published in the July issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)