Clinician Job Satisfaction After Peer Comparison Feedback

A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial



Interventions that improve clinician performance through feedback should not contribute to job dissatisfaction or staff turnover. Measurement of job satisfaction may help identify interventions that lead to this undesirable consequence.


 To evaluate whether mean job satisfaction was less than the margin of clinical significance among clinicians who received social norm feedback (peer comparison) compared with clinicians who did not.

Design, Setting, and Participants 

This secondary, preregistered, noninferiority analysis of a cluster randomized trial compared 3 interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design from November 1, 2011, to April 1, 2014. A total of 248 clinicians were enrolled from 47 clinics. The sample size for this analysis was determined by the number of nonmissing job satisfaction scores from the original enrolled sample, which was 201 clinicians from 43 clinics. Data analysis was performed from October 12 to April 13, 2022.


Feedback comparing individual clinician performance to top-performing peers, delivered in monthly emails (peer comparison).

Main Outcomes and Measures 

The primary outcome was a response to the following statement: “Overall, I am satisfied with my current job.” Responses ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).


A total of 201 clinicians (response rate, 81%) from 43 of the 47 clinics (91%) provided a survey response about job satisfaction. Clinicians were primarily female (n = 129 [64%]) and board certified in internal medicine (n = 126 [63%]), with a mean (SD) age of 48 (10) years. The clinic-clustered difference in mean job satisfaction was greater than −0.32 (β = 0.11; 95% CI, −0.19 to 0.42; P = .46). Therefore, the preregistered null hypothesis that peer comparison is inferior by resulting in at least a 1-point decrease in job satisfaction by 1 in 3 clinicians was rejected. The secondary null hypothesis that job satisfaction was similar among clinicians randomized to social norm feedback was not able to be rejected. The effect size did not change when controlling for other trial interventions (t = 0.08; P = .94), and no interaction effects were observed.

Conclusions and Relevance

In this secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, peer comparison did not lead to lower job satisfaction. Features that may have protected against dissatisfaction include clinicians’ agency over the performance measure, privacy of individual performance, and allowing all clinicians to achieve top performance.

Trial Registration Identifiers: NCT05575115 and NCT01454947

The full study can be viewed at JAMA Network Open.

Doctor, J. N. (2023). Clinician job satisfaction after peer comparison feedback: A secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Network Open, 6(6), e2317379–e2317379.

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