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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Apr;13(4):467-70. Epub 2006 Mar 10.

Improving communication skills: feedback from faculty and residents.

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Residency Program, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine common themes in faculty and peer feedback for emergency medicine (EM) resident oral presentations.


From January to July 2005, all EM residents received written feedback on communication skills from two faculty and two peer reviewers. The feedback forms were analyzed by using formal grounded theory. The two investigators independently reviewed 25% of the forms to generate a code of general categories and specific qualifiers. The independent codes were merged by consensus into a common code. All forms were independently coded by the two investigators using the common code. Coding disagreements were resolved by consensus, yielding a uniform inventory of feedback categories and qualifiers.


Twenty-one of 23 residents participated. Three hundred seventy-two data points were coded, with an interrater agreement of 85.7%. The five most common feedback themes were as follows: focus on key and relevant teaching points; increase audience participation; encourage higher level thinking; decrease content per slide; and add missing content relevant to teaching point. Peers differed from faculty, mentioning more frequently encourage higher level thinking and add missing content relevant to teaching point. Faculty differed from peers, mentioning increase clarity of teaching point and be engaging and enthusiastic more frequently. The difference in distribution of themes between faculty and peers was significant (chi2 = 59.692; p = 0.01).


The authors present a model for providing feedback to EM residents on communication skills that is individualized, behavior based, and includes peer comments. Faculty and peers differ in their recommendations. The findings may inform communication skills curricula for EM residents.

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