Open Access Research article

Hospital-physician relations: the relative importance of economic, relational and professional attributes to organizational attractiveness

Jeroen Trybou1*, Paul Gemmel2, Yves Van Vaerenbergh3 and Lieven Annemans14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, Gent B-9000, Belgium

2 Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Center for Service Intelligence, Ghent University, Tweekerkenstraat 2, Gent B-9000, Belgium

3 Research Center for Human Relations, KU Leuven, Warmoesberg 26, Leuven 1B-000, Belgium

4 Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, Brussels, Elsene B-1050, Belgium

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:232  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-232

Published: 21 May 2014



Belgian hospitals face a growing shortage of physicians and increasingly competitive market conditions. In this challenging environment hospitals are struggling to build effective hospital-physician relationships which are considered to be a critical determinant of organizational success.


Employed physicians of a University hospital were surveyed. Organizational attributes were identified through the literature and two focus groups. Variables were measured using validated questionnaires. Descriptive analyses and linear regression were used to test the model and relative importance analyses were performed.


The selected attributes predict hospital attractiveness significantly (79.3%). The relative importance analysis revealed that hospital attractiveness is most strongly predicted by professional attributes (35.3%) and relational attributes (29.7%). In particular, professional development opportunities (18.8%), hospital prestige (16.5%), organizational support (17.2%) and leader support (9.3%) were found to be most important. Besides these non-economic aspects, the employed physicians indicated pay and financial benefits (7.4%) as a significant predictor of hospital attractiveness. Work-life balance and job security were not significantly related to hospital attractiveness.


This study shows that initiatives aimed at strengthening physicians’ positive perceptions of professional and relational aspects of practicing medicine in hospitals, while assuring satisfactory financial conditions, may offer useful avenues for increasing the level of perceived hospital attractiveness. Overall, hospitals are advised to use a differentiated approach to increase their attractiveness to physicians.