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Acad Med. 2009 Jul;84(7):910-7. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181a858ad.

Who wants feedback? An investigation of the variables influencing residents' feedback-seeking behavior in relation to night shifts.

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Free University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



The literature on feedback in clinical medical education has predominantly treated trainees as passive recipients. Past research has focused on how clinical supervisors can use feedback to improve a trainee's performance. On the basis of research in social and organizational psychology, the authors reconceptualized residents as active seekers of feedback. They investigated what individual and situational variables influence residents' feedback-seeking behavior on night shifts.


Early in 2008, the authors sent obstetrics-gynecology residents in the Netherlands--both those in their first two years of graduate training and those gaining experience between undergraduate and graduate training--a questionnaire that assessed four predictor variables (learning and performance goal orientation, and instrumental and supportive leadership), two mediator variables (perceived feedback benefits and costs), and two outcome variables (frequency of feedback inquiry and monitoring). They used structural equation modeling software to test a hypothesized model of relationships between variables.


The response rate was 76.5%. Results showed that residents who perceive more feedback benefits report a higher frequency of feedback inquiry and monitoring. More perceived feedback costs result mainly in more feedback monitoring. Residents with a higher learning goal orientation perceive more feedback benefits and fewer costs. Residents with a higher performance goal orientation perceive more feedback costs. Supportive physicians lead residents to perceive more feedback benefits and fewer costs.


This study showed that some residents actively seek feedback. Residents' feedback-seeking behavior partially depends on attending physicians' supervisory style. Residents' goal orientations influence their perceptions of the benefits and costs of feedback-seeking.

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