We all strive for autonomy, competence, and relatedness - the three primary psychological needs. Learn more about HCA Healthcare's physician flourishing model

HCA Healthcare well-being approach

In 2015 graduate students from the Organizational Positive Psychology division of Claremont Graduate School (CGU) in southern California studied an HCA Healthcare hospital to determine how to develop a wellness program for a new residency. Implementing the suggestions of these positive organizational psychologists this new program demonstrated impressive success on the physician well-being efforts. HCA supported further research with CGU conducting several longitudinal nation-wide studies designed to determine if positive psychology linked variables can predict workplace burnout, engagement, and depression among resident physicians.

The first study

The first study, conducted in 2017-2018 indeed demonstrated strong predictive ability for several positive psychology variables to predict important outcomes. The feeling of having meaningful work, a learning climate with high degrees of autonomy supportive leadership, and high levels of individual psychological capital predict less workplace burnout, more workplace engagement, and less depression. The degree of social support also predicted depression with greater levels of social support linked to less depression among residents.

The longitudinal national study

To further confirm this portion of the HCA Healthcare well-being approach, we replicated the first study in a second longitudinal national study conducted in 2019. This study confirmed the important relationship between our key positive psychology variables (meaningful work, autonomy supportive leadership, and psychological capital) and well-being outcomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the US we rapidly developed a third study to determine how these same variables interact with the stresses caused by the pandemic. This third study in 2020 showed that these variables - autonomy supportive leadership, meaningful work, and psychological capital - moderated the negative impact of COVID-19 on residents.

Making a lasting positive impact

HCA Healthcare’s flourishing project seeks to build on this research developing and studying interventions designed to make a lasting positive impact on our healthcare team. Teaching our leadership and faculty techniques to increase their level of autonomy support helps create work and learning environments that allow residents to thrive. A pilot study with Dr. Rich Ryan, and Dr. Scott Rigby in 2022 furthered our understanding of how to improve our work and learning environments by teaching these concepts to team members.

We understand that to flourish our team members require both low levels of “negative” states such as workplace burnout and depression but also high levels of positive states such as joy, optimism, a sense of meaning, competence, and growth. These two complementary approaches - mitigating negative states and enabling positive ones - require different approaches with some overlap. The HCA Healthcare flourishing project is designed to ensure we follow the newest literature, determine the best approaches, and eliminate barriers to their implementation.