Proactive behaviors and health care workers: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Proactive behaviors at work refer to discretionary actions among workers that are self-starting, change oriented, and future focused. Proactive behaviors reflect the idiosyncratic actions by individual workers that shape the delivery and experience of professional services, highlight a bottom-up perspective on workers' agency and motivation that can influence organizational practices, and are associated with a variety of employee and organizational outcomes. Purpose This systematic review aims to understand the various forms of proactive behaviors in health care workers that have been studied, and how these proactive behaviors are associated with employee-level outcomes and quality of care. Methods Systematic review of articles published to date on proactive behaviors in health care workers. Results Based on the identification of 40 articles, we find that job crafting, active problem solving, voice, extra-role behaviors, and idiosyncratic deals have been investigated as proactive behaviors among health care workers. Among these, job crafting is the most commonly studied (35% of articles), and it has been conceptualized and measured in the most consistent way, including as individual- and group-level phenomena, and as organizational interventions. Studies on active problem solving, which refers to workers accepting responsibility, exercising control, and taking action around anticipated or experienced problems at work, have not been consistently investigated as a form of proactive behavior but represent 25% of the articles identified in this review. Overall, this review finds that proactive behaviors in health care is a burgeoning area of research, with the majority of studies being cross-sectional in design and published after 2010, and focused on workers' job satisfaction as the outcome. Practice Implications Health care workers and managers should consider the distinct influences and contributions of proactive behaviors as ways to improve employee-level outcomes and quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-251
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Care Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2024


  • Health care workers
  • proactive behaviors
  • systematic review
  • work design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Strategy and Management


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