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Organizational climate and employee mental health outcomes: A systematic review of studies in health care organizations

Bronkhorst, Babette; Tummers, Lars; Steijn, Bram; Vijverberg, Dominique

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000026
Features

Background: In recent years, the high prevalence of mental health problems among health care workers has given rise to great concern. The academic literature suggests that employees’ perceptions of their work environment can play a role in explaining mental health outcomes.

Purposes: We conducted a systematic review of the literature in order to answer the following two research questions: (1) how does organizational climate relate to mental health outcomes among employees working in health care organizations and (2) which organizational climate dimension is most strongly related to mental health outcomes among employees working in health care organizations?

Methodology/Approach: Four search strategies plus inclusion and quality assessment criteria were applied to identify and select eligible studies. As a result, 21 studies were included in the review. Data were extracted from the studies to create a findings database. The contents of the studies were analyzed and categorized according to common characteristics.

Findings: Perceptions of a good organizational climate were significantly associated with positive employee mental health outcomes such as lower levels of burnout, depression, and anxiety. More specifically, our findings indicate that group relationships between coworkers are very important in explaining the mental health of health care workers. There is also evidence that aspects of leadership and supervision affect mental health outcomes. Relationships between communication, or participation, and mental health outcomes were less clear.

Practical Implications: If health care organizations want to address mental health issues among their staff, our findings suggest that organizations will benefit from incorporating organizational climate factors in their health and safety policies. Stimulating a supportive atmosphere among coworkers and developing relationship-oriented leadership styles would seem to be steps in the right direction.

Babette Bronkhorst, MSc, is PhD Student, Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: bronkhorst@fsw.eur.nl.

Lars Tummers, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Bram Steijn, PhD, is Professor, Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Dominique Vijverberg, MBA, is Managing Director, Stichting IZZ.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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