How Fairness Perceptions Influence Health Outcomes

Fairness perceptions are an employee’s beliefs about how equitably they are treated by their organization and its authorities. Employees make similar assessments on whether all employees at the organization are being treated fairly. The current research (Bilotta et al., 2022) examines how these fairness perceptions are related to positive health outcomes.


The researchers used data from an annual staff survey by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. They found that when employees perceived that career advancement procedures were fair for all employees, they were more likely to speak up and engage colleagues for the betterment of the organization. Speaking up, in turn, was related to improved patient health outcomes – namely, decreased mortality and increased satisfaction with care.

Additionally, when employees believed that they were personally treated fairly in regards to discrimination, they were more likely to experience psychological safety – meaning the ability to be oneself without fear of exploitation or mistreatment by others. In turn, there were downstream positive impacts on employee health.


Overall, this study concluded that higher levels of fairness are associated with positive employee and patient health outcomes. Thus, the authors propose that organizations create an equitable environment for employees of all backgrounds in order to increase these positive outcomes and ultimately benefit the bottom line.

The authors further argue that healthier employees may perform better at work because they have sufficient mental and physical capabilities to do so. Additionally, the researchers posit that patients who are more satisfied may be more likely to return for future services. Finally, healthcare organizations with lower patient mortality rates will likely be viewed more favorably and be subject to fewer wrongful death lawsuits, resulting in financial benefits to the organization.


Bilotta, I., Dawson, J. F., & King, E. B. (2022). The role of fairness perceptions in patient and employee health: A multilevel, multisource investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 107(9), 1441–1458.

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