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Acad Med. 1999 Jun;74(6):702-14.

Changing physicians' practices: the effect of individual feedback.

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1
Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether physicians who received feedback from six peers, six referring/referral physicians, six co-workers, and 25 patients about 55 aspects of their medical practices (e.g., able to reach doctor by phone after office hours) would make changes to their practices based on that feedback.

METHOD:

In an earlier study, 308 physicians were given feedback about 106 aspects of their practices in the form of mean Likert-scale ratings that (1) the peers made on 26 aspects; (2) the referring/referral physicians made on 23 aspects; (3) the co-workers made on 17 aspects; and (4) the patients made on 40 aspects. Three months later 255 of these physicians responded when asked to indicate whether they had contemplated or initiated changes, or whether no change had been necessary, regarding 31 practice aspects, each of which was a summary of one or more of 55 of the original 106 aspects on which they had received ratings. These 55 were considered the aspects most amenable to change over a short period. The physicians were also asked about the educational interventions that they felt would help them make changes. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to see whether the types of changes reported for the specific aspects of practice were associated with the feedback ratings received for those aspects.

RESULTS:

An examination of the responses showed that 83% of the 255 physicians reported having contemplated a change, and 66% reported having initiated a change for at least one aspect of practice. Changes were contemplated most frequently for aspects of practice associated with clinical skills and resource use. Changes were initiated most frequently for aspects of practice associated with communication with patients and support of patients. Physicians who contemplated or initiated changes had lower (i.e., more negative) mean ratings than did physicians who reported that no change was necessary, which suggests that the physicians did use their feedback ratings to decide about changes, although their qualitative comments indicated other sources as well. Printed material was chosen most often as a method of receiving continuing medical education related to making changes in the practice areas examined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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