Surgical Trainee Feedback-Seeking Behavior in the Context of Workplace-Based Assessment in Clinical Settings

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Abstract

Purpose

To investigate surgical trainee feedback-seeking behaviors—directly asking for feedback (inquiry) and observing and responding to situational clues (monitoring)—in the context of workplace-based assessment (WBA).

Method

A hypothetical model of trainee feedback-seeking behavior was developed using existing literature. A questionnaire, incorporating previously validated instruments from organizational psychology, was distributed to general surgical trainees at 23 U.K. hospitals in 2012–2013. Statistical modeling techniques compared the data with 12 predetermined hypothetical relationships between feedback-seeking behaviors and predictive variables (goal orientation, supervisory style) through mediating variables (perceptions of personal benefits and costs of feedback) to develop a final model.

Results

Of 235 trainees invited, 178 (76%) responded. Trainees completed 48 WBAs/year on average, and 73% reported receiving feedback via WBA. The final model was of good fit (chi-square/degree of freedom ratio = 1.620, comparative fit index = 0.953, root mean square error of approximation = 0.059). Modeled data showed trainees who perceive personal benefits to feedback use both feedback inquiry and monitoring to engage in feedback interactions. Trainees who seek feedback engage in using WBA. Trainees’ goal orientations and perceptions of trainers’ supervisory styles as supportive and instrumental are associated with perceived benefits and costs to feedback.

Conclusions

Trainees actively engage in seeking feedback and using WBA. Their perceptions of feedback benefits and costs and supervisory style play a role in their feedback-seeking behavior. Encouraging trainees to actively seek feedback by providing specific training and creating a supportive environment for feedback interactions could positively affect their ability to seek feedback.

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