Views of institutional leaders on maintaining humanism in today's practice

Mary Ann C. Gilligan, Lars G. Osterberg, Elizabeth A. Rider, Arthur R. Derse, Amy B. Weil, Debra K. Litzelman, Dana W. Dunne, Janet P. Hafler, Margaret Plews-Ogan, Richard M. Frankel, William T. Branch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To explore leadership perspectives on how to maintain high quality efficient care that is also person-centered and humanistic. Methods: The authors interviewed and collected narrative transcripts from a convenience sample of 32 institutional healthcare leaders at seven U.S. medical schools. The institutional leaders were asked to identify factors that either promoted or inhibited humanistic practice. A subset of authors used the constant comparative method to perform qualitative analysis of the interview transcripts. They reached thematic saturation by consensus on the major themes and illustrative examples after six conference calls. Results: Institutional healthcare leaders supported vision statements, policies, organized educational and faculty development programs, role modeling including their own, and recognition of informal acts of kindness to promote and maintain humanistic patient-care. These measures were described individually rather than as components of a coordinated plan. Few healthcare leaders mentioned plans for organizational or systems changes to promote humanistic clinician-patient relationships. Conclusions: Institutional leaders assisted clinicians in dealing with stressful practices in beneficial ways but fell short of envisaging systems approaches that improve practice organization to encourage humanistic care. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: To preserve humanistic care requires system changes as well as programs to enhance skills and foster humanistic values and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1916
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Burnout
  • Compassionate healthcare
  • Faculty development
  • Humanism
  • Leadership
  • Organizational culture
  • Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Gilligan, M. A. C., Osterberg, L. G., Rider, E. A., Derse, A. R., Weil, A. B., Litzelman, D. K., Dunne, D. W., Hafler, J. P., Plews-Ogan, M., Frankel, R. M., & Branch, W. T. (2019). Views of institutional leaders on maintaining humanism in today's practice. Patient Education and Counseling, 102(10), 1911-1916.