Defining insight: a challenge that matters

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Abstract

Background:

Insight is a fundamental consideration in the maintenance and improvement of performance. What is required is a definition that can be used consistently along with an understanding of the dynamic nature of insight, and therefore its potential for improvement.

Context:

The work presented is a review of contemporary literature about insight, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and experience from the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) in the assessment of 300 doctors with performance problems.

Summary of results:

This work has led to the construction of a working definition of insight that incorporates reflection, emotional intelligence, self-awareness and motivation. The validity and utility of this definition was tested using data from NCAS's growing experience.

Conclusions:

The assessment of insight in NCAS performance assessments has involved the use of information from a variety of sources, including psychometric profiling, multisource feedback and self-assessment. This has been corroborated with findings from clinical performance assessment and the outcomes of remediation plans.

Implications:

A definition of insight is offered that is greater than just self-awareness, and that involves emotional intelligence and motivation. The use of this broad definition is of fundamental importance in the production of educational and development programmes at all levels.

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