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Fam Med. 2019 Apr;51(4):326-330. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2019.113783.

Forward Feeding in Graduate Medical Education: Results of a National Survey.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.
Department of Family and Community Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA.



"Forward feeding" is defined as the sharing of information regarding learner behaviors and performance outside of formal institutional committee structures. The purpose of this study was to establish baseline opinions and policies of forward feeding in family medicine residency programs.


Data for this study were obtained as part of the 2015 CERA Program Directors Fall Survey. Program directors indicated whether they felt that faculty should and do engage in forward feeding. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of various types of information about learners (academic performance, clinical performance, professionalism, physical health, and mental health), reasons for promoting, and concerns regarding forward feeding on a 5-point Likert scale.


The overall response rate was 49% (227/461). Most agreed that faculty should (87%) and do (83%) engage in forward feeding. Concerns regarding professionalism and clinical performance were reported as most important to share. The most important reason identified for forward feeding was the early identification of struggling residents, followed by the ability to direct teaching to the resident's specific needs, and improving the quality of feedback. Fear of creating bias was the most commonly cited concern for engaging in forward feeding, followed by fear of violating confidentiality and difficulty maintaining confidentiality. Fear of litigation was the least common concern.


Despite concerns, the majority of program directors feel that faculty should and do engage in forward feeding. Our study confirms the importance of clinical performance and professionalism as two important themes of information shared by attendings about residents.

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