J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Sep 19. doi: 10.1007/s11606-023-08393-z. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Toxic work culture contributes to healthcare worker burnout and attrition, but little is known about how healthcare organizations can systematically create and promote a culture of civility and collegiality.
OBJECTIVE: To analyze peer-to-peer positive feedback collected as part of a systematized mortality review survey to identify themes and recognition dynamics that can inform positive organizational culture change.
DESIGN: Convergent mixed-methods study design.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 388 physicians, 212 registered nurses, 64 advanced practice providers, and 1 respiratory therapist at four non-profit hospitals (2 academic and 2 community).
INTERVENTION: Providing optional positive feedback in the mortality review survey.
MAIN MEASURES: Key themes and subthemes that emerged from positive feedback data, associations between key themes and positive feedback respondent characteristics, and recognition dynamics between positive feedback respondents and recipients.
KEY RESULTS: Approximately 20% of healthcare workers provided positive feedback. Three key themes emerged among responses with free text comments: (1) providing extraordinary patient and family-centered care; (2) demonstrating self-possession and mastery; and (3) exhibiting empathic peer support and effective team collaboration. Compared to other specialties, most positive feedback from medicine (70.2%), neurology (65.2%), hospice and palliative medicine (64.3%), and surgery (58.8%) focused on providing extraordinary patient and family-centered care (p = 0.02), whereas emergency medicine (59.1%) comments predominantly focused on demonstrating self-possession and mastery (p = 0.06). Registered nurses (40.2%) provided multidirectional positive feedback more often than other clinician types in the hospital hierarchy (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of positive feedback from a mortality review survey provided meaningful insights into a health system's culture of teamwork and values related to civility and collegiality when providing end-of-life care. Systematic collection and sharing of positive feedback is feasible and has the potential to promote positive culture change and improve healthcare worker well-being.