Reversing Perspectives: Can Positive Feedback Improve Healthcare Work Culture?

Reversing Perspectives: Can Positive Feedback Improve Healthcare Work Culture?

Healthcare organizations often focus on what goes wrong in the care delivery process, but a new study proposes that shifting the perspective to what goes right could enhance work culture and improve patient care. Researchers from Mass General Brigham conducted a study on the collection and sharing of positive feedback among healthcare workers in the context of caring for dying patients. The study found that a systematic approach to collecting positive feedback can increase mutual appreciation among healthcare workers and provide valuable insights into teamwork, collegiality, and civility within an organization.

The researchers analyzed survey responses from physicians, nurses, advanced practice providers, and a respiratory therapist across four Mass General Brigham hospitals. The positive feedback focused on exceptional patient care, provider expertise and composure, and peer support and team collaboration. The analysis revealed clear patterns of feedback across different specialties, with a focus on patient care in medicine, neurology, hospice/palliative care, and surgery, and expertise and composure in emergency medicine. Nurses provided the most feedback compared to other clinician types.

Although the study was limited to a single health system and did not collect outcome data on adverse events or clinician well-being, the results highlight the potential of systematically collecting and sharing positive feedback as a low-cost intervention to improve workplace culture. It can help leaders understand the value system and strengths of their employees, thereby protecting healthcare workers against burnout and attrition.

This study provides foundational knowledge on how healthcare organizations can develop a systematic tool to collect positive feedback and share the data with frontline staff and organizational leaders to foster an improved work culture. It emphasizes the need to learn from positive feedback alongside safety reporting and mortality reviews and scale best practices that contribute to enhanced patient care.


“What Went Right? A Mixed-Methods Study of Positive Feedback Data in a Hospital-Wide Mortality Review Survey.” Journal of General Internal Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s11606-023-08393-z

Mass General Brigham

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