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Towards a model of surgeons' leadership in the operating room
  1. Sarah Henrickson Parker1,
  2. Steven Yule1,
  3. Rhona Flin1,
  4. Aileen McKinley2
  1. 1School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Department of Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sarah Henrickson Parker, School of Psychology, King's College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3FX, UK; sarah.henrickson.parker{at}


Background There is widespread recognition that leadership skills are essential for effective performance in the workplace, but the evidence detailing effective leadership behaviours for surgeons during operations is unclear.

Data sources Boolean searches of four on-line databases and detailed hand search of relevant references were conducted. A four stage screening process was adopted stipulating that articles presented empirical data on surgeons' intraoperative leadership behaviours.

Conclusions Ten relevant articles were identified and organised by method of investigation into (i) observation, (ii) questionnaire and (iii) interview studies. This review summarises the limited literature on surgeons' intraoperative leadership, and proposes a preliminary theoretically based structure for intraoperative leadership behaviours. This structure comprises seven categories with corresponding leadership components and covers two overarching themes related to task- and team-focus. Selected leadership theories which may be applicable to the operating room environment are also discussed. Further research is required to determine effective intraoperative leadership behaviours for safe surgical practice.

  • Leadership
  • patient safety
  • surgery
  • teams

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  • Funding This work was supported by the Scottish Funding Council.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.