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.
- patient safety
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