Positive Health and the happy professional: a qualitative case study

Caro H. C. Lemmen, Gili Yaron*, Rachel Gifford, Marieke D. Spreeuwenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Primary care professionals (PCPs) face mounting pressures associated with their work, which has resulted in high burn-out numbers. Increasing PCPs' job satisfaction is proposed as a solution in this regard. Positive Health (PH) is an upcoming, comprehensive health concept. Among others, this concept promises to promote PCPs' job satisfaction. However, there is limited research into PH's effects on this topic. This study, therefore, aims to provide insight into how adopting PH in a general practice affects PCPs' job satisfaction. Methods An ethnographic case study was conducted in a Dutch general practice that is currently implementing PH. Data collected included 11 semi-structured interviews and archival sources. All data were analyzed thematically. Results Thematic analysis identified three themes regarding PCPs' adoption of PH and job satisfaction, namely [1] adopting and adapting Positive Health, [2] giving substance to Positive Health in practice, and [3] changing financial and organizational structures. Firstly, the adoption of PH was the result of a match between the practice and the malleable and multi-interpretable concept. Secondly, PH supported PCPs to express, legitimize, and promote their distinctive approach to care work and its value. This strengthened them to further their holistic approach to health and stimulate autonomy in practice, with respect to both patients and professionals. Thirdly, the concept enabled PCPs to change their financial and organizational structures, notably freeing time to spend on patients and on their own well-being. This allowed them to enact their values. The changes made by the practice increased the job satisfaction of the PCPs. Conclusions PH contributed to the job satisfaction of the PCPs of the general practice by functioning as an adaptable frame for change. This frame helped them to legitimize and give substance to their vision, thereby increasing job satisfaction. PH's malleability allows for the frame's customization and the creation of the match. Simultaneously, malleability introduces ambiguity on what the concept entails. In that regard, PH is not a readily implementable intervention. We recommend that other organizations seeking to adopt PH consider whether they are willing and able to make the match and explore how PH can help substantiate their vision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2021


  • Positive Health
  • Physician well-being
  • Primary care
  • Job satisfaction
  • Narrative identity theory
  • WORK

Cite this