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Shared Leadership in Healthcare Action Teams

A Systematic Review

Janssens, Sarah MBBS, FRANZCOG*†‡; Simon, Robert EdD§∥; Beckmann, Michael PhD, MBBS, FRANZCOG*‡; Marshall, Stuart PhD, MBChB, MHumFact, MRCA, FANZCA†¶

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000503
Review Article: PDF Only

Objectives The aims of this review were to consolidate the reported literature describing shared leadership in healthcare action teams (HCATs) and to review the reported outcomes related to leadership sharing in healthcare emergencies.

Methods A systematic search of the English language literature before November 2017 was performed using PsycINFO, MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE. Articles describing sharing of leadership functions in HCATs were included. Healthcare teams performing routine work were excluded. Studies were reviewed for type of leadership sharing and sharing-related outcomes.

Results Thirty-three articles met the inclusion criteria. A variety of shared leadership models were described across the following three categories: spontaneous collaboration, intuitive working relations, and institutionalized practices. While leadership sharing has the potential for both positive and negative influences on team performance, only six articles reported outcomes potentially attributable to shared leadership.

Conclusions Despite strong evidence for a positive relationship between shared leadership and team performance in other domains, there is limited literature describing shared leadership models in HCATs. The association between shared leadership and team performance in HCATs is a rich area for further investigation.

From the *Mater Misericordiae Brisbane Ltd, Mothers Babies and Women's Health Services, Brisbane;

Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne;

University of Queensland, School of Medicine, Brisbane, Australia;

§Center for Medical Simulation, Boston;

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and

Department of Medical Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Correspondence: Sarah Janssens, MBBS FRANZCOG, Ground Flr, Aubigny Place, Mater Health, South Brisbane QLD 4101 (e-mail:

The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

S.R. and M.B. are supported by a Betty McGrath Health Practitioner Fellowship. S.M. is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) ECR fellowship grant (1130929).

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