Differential effects of professional leaders on health care teams in chronic disease management groups

Douglas R Wholey, Joanne Disch, Katie M White, Adam Powell, Thomas S. Rector, Anju Sahay, Paul A. Heidenreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Leadership by health care professionals is likely to vary because of differences in the social contexts within which they are situated, socialization processes and societal expectations, education and training, and the way their professions define and operationalize key concepts such as teamwork, collaboration, and partnership. This research examines the effect of the nurse and physician leaders on interdependence and encounter preparedness in chronic disease management practice groups. Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of complementary leadership by nurses and physicians involved in jointly producing a health care service on care team functioning. Methodology: The design is a retrospective observational study based on survey data. The unit of analysis is heart failure care groups in U.S. Veterans Health Administration medical centers. Survey and administrative data were collected in 2009 from 68 Veterans Health Administration medical centers. Key variables include nurse and physician leadership, interdependence, psychological safety, coordination, and encounter preparedness. Reliability and validity of survey measures were assessed with exploratory factor analysis and Cronbach alphas. Multivariate analyses tested hypotheses. Findings: Professional leadership by nurses and physicians is related to encounter preparedness by different paths. Nurse leadership is associated with greater team interdependence, and interdependence is positively associated with respect. Physician leadership is positively associated with greater psychological safety, respect, and shared goals but is not associated with interdependence. Respect is associated with involvement in learning activities, and shared goals are associated with coordination. Coordination and involvement in learning activities are positively associated with encounter preparedness. Practice Implications: By focusing on increasing interdependence and a constructive climate, nurse and physician leaders have the opportunity to increase care coordination and involvement in learning activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Care Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Care teams
  • chronic care
  • leadership
  • nursing
  • professions


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