Positive Leadership WalkRounds improve healthcare worker well-being and safety

June 29, 2021

The Joint Commission announced a new study in its Journal on Quality and Patient Safety evaluating the association between Positive Leadership WalkRounds (PosWR), and healthcare worker (HCW) well-being and organizational safety culture. 

The study, “Safety Culture and Workforce Well-Being Associations with Positive Leadership WalkRounds,” was completed at Duke University Health System, Durham, North Carolina and involved senior leaders who were encouraged to conduct PosWR, an organizational practice in which leaders conduct rounds and ask staff about what is going well. 

A cross-sectional survey of clinical and nonclinical HCWs included a question about recall of exposure of to PosWR – “Do senior leaders ask for information about what is going well in this work setting (e.g., people who deserve special recognition for going above and beyond, celebration of successes, etc.)?” – along with measures of well-being and safety culture. 

Electronic surveys were returned by 10,627 out of 13,040 possible respondents (81.5% response rate) from 396 work settings. Exposure to PosWR was reported by 63.1% of respondents overall. Exposure to PosWR was most commonly reported by HCWs in leadership roles (83.8%). 

The researchers compared the responses about well-being and safety culture across quartiles of exposure to PosWR. Compared to work settings in the lowest quartiles, HCWs in work settings in the top quartiles reported a higher percentage of favorable responses, including strong: 

  • Readiness to engage in quality improvement activities
  • Leadership accessibility and feedback behavior
  • Teamwork norms
  • Work-life balance norms

Additionally, compared to the fourth quartile, the first quartile had a lower percentage of respondents reporting emotional exhaustion (burnout) in themselves and in their colleagues.  The findings in the study are “promising and serve as an important reminder about the role of leaders at all levels of the organization in preventing and mitigating health professional burnout,” notes an accompanying editorial by Kanekal Suresh Gautham, MD, DM, MS, FAAP, and Colin P. West, MD, PhD. “It reminds us that every leader is a CEO – a Chief Emotional Officer.” 

The Joint Commission has the release.