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Evidence-based Medical Leadership Development: A Systematic Review


Oscar Lyons - 2020

Health systems invest significant resources in leadership development for physicians and other health professionals. Competent leadership is considered vital for maintaining and improving quality and patient safety. We carried out this systematic review to synthesise new empirical evidence regarding medical leadership development programme factors which are associated with outcomes at the clinical and organisational levels. 

Using Ovid MEDLINE, we conducted a database search using both free text and Medical Subject Headings. We then conducted an extensive hand-search of references and of citations in known healthcare leadership development reviews. We applied the Medical Education Research Study Quality Indicator (MERSQI) and the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Critical Appraisal Tool to determine study reliability, and synthesised results using a meta-aggregation approach. 

117 studies were included in this systematic review. 28 studies met criteria for higher reliability studies. The median critical appraisal score according to the MERSQI was 8.5/18 and the median critical appraisal score according to the JBI was 3/10. There were recurring causes of low study quality scores related to study design, data analysis and reporting. There was considerable heterogeneity in intervention design and evaluation design. Programmes with internal or mixed faculty were significantly more likely to report organisational outcomes than programmes with external faculty only (p=0.049). Project work and mentoring increased the likelihood of organisational outcomes. No leadership development content area was particularly associated with organisational outcomes. In leadership development programmes in healthcare, external faculty should be used to supplement in-house faculty and not be a replacement for in-house expertise. 

To facilitate organisational outcomes, interventions should include project work and mentoring. Educational methods appear to be more important for organisational outcomes than specific curriculum content. Improving evaluation design will allow educators and evaluators to more effectively understand factors which are reliably associated with organisational outcomes of leadership development.

Read more at: Evidence-based medical leadership development: a systematic review

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