The Quality of Written Comments on Professional Behaviors in a Developmental Multisource Feedback Program

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BackgroundWritten feedback on professional behaviors is an important part of medical training, but little attention has been paid to the quality of written feedback and its expected impact on learning. A large body of research on feedback suggests that feedback is most beneficial when it is specific, clear, and behavioral. Analysis of feedback comments may reveal opportunities to improve the value of feedback.MethodUsing a directed content analysis, the authors coded and analyzed feedback phrases collected as part of a pilot of a developmental multisource feedback program. The authors coded feedback on various dimensions, including valence (positive or negative) and whether feedback was directed at the level of the self or behavioral performance.ResultsMost feedback comments were positive, self-oriented, and lacked actionable information that would make them useful to learners.ConclusionsComments often lack effective feedback characteristics. Opportunities exist to improve the quality of comments provided in multisource feedback.

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