Good conversations, fairer feedback
What were the key findings?
- Doctors in training consider feedback as an important part of their development. Receiving feedback was associated with increased job satisfaction.
- Feedback was considered more credible if it was timely, actionable and specific. And more meaningful if the personal and professional values of giver and receiver are aligned.
- A reported reluctance from trainers to deliver critical feedback means that trainees can struggle to get constructive and honest feedback.
- Participants described the considerable impact that negative feedback in particular could have in striking language: ‘public shaming’; ‘ambushed’.
- An absence of feedback leaves trainees feeling uncertain, insecure, and
- Positive feedback made trainees feel engaged, built confidence, and influenced career choices.
- Poorly delivered feedback was described as impacting on relationships, engagement within departments, affecting training opportunities, and reducing access to help and support.
- Feedback was highlighted as a way that workplaces and trainers demonstrated interest and investment in trainees.
- Cultural barriers were identified, in particular by trainees with protected characteristics, as a reason they felt feedback was not relevant or appropriate.
Why did we undertake this research?
In 2018 we launched a programme of work, supporting a profession under pressure, to address issues about doctors’ working environments and the impact of systems pressures on medical practice. A common issue we identified across the programme was the quality of the feedback conversations doctors have.
This research, undertaken by two of our clinical fellows, was designed to give us a better understanding of the impact of feedback and the barriers to trainees experiencing high-quality feedback conversations.
What did the research involve?
This research consisted of a literature review followed by semi-structured interviews with 13 doctors. The sample was purposefully selected to make sure the views of doctors with a range of backgrounds and experiences were included.