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Meaningful routines in primary healthcare

Research project This research project takes its starting point in the challenges of primary healthcare and aims at developing understanding of what makes organizational routines meaningful, as well as how organizations can develop meaningful routines.

Routines are central for the creation and maintenance of stability at work. In primary care, where staff turnover, lack of time, and patient influx constitute major challenges, the importance of well-functioning routines is crucial. However, there is a great risk that routines will not be followed if they are not perceived as meaningful, which has negative consequences for both social and physical work environment, and patient safety. Meaningfulness is moreover important for promoting resilience, managing stress and reducing sick leave, which are current challenges in healthcare.

Head of project

Mattias Jacobsson
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2021-07-01 2024-12-31


This project is funded by AFA försäkringar with a total of 2 970 000 SEK.

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics

Research area

Business administration

Project description

It is well-known that organizational routines play a key role in upholding stability and continuity at work. In primary health care, where the influx of patients with various illnesses is extensive and turnover of staff is increasing, well-functioning routines are even more crucial. However, if the routines are not perceived as meaningful, there is a risk that healthcare professionals will deviate from or just ignore them, which could have hazardous consequences for both patients and staff. Meaningfulness has been shown to be important in promoting resilience, and the ability to manage stress, and thereby reduce sick leave, which are current challenges in primary care. The project is thus focused on “meaningful routines” in primary health care. This means routines that not only enable work to be successfully executed but also provide organization members with a sense of meaningfulness, which is an overlooked area of research. The purpose is to advance the understanding of meaningful routines in organizations. Based on in-depth interviews and four rounds of focus groups with primary healthcare professionals, an understanding of what makes routines meaningful will be developed. This knowledge is above all important for making primary health care more sustainable, but also transferable to other organizations where routines are central in order to maintain stability and safety.

Latest update: 2022-01-18