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1.  Critical features of peer assessment of clinical performance to enhance adherence to a low back pain guideline for physical therapists: a mixed methods design 
BMC Medical Education  2015;15:203.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines are intended to improve the process and outcomes of patient care. However, their implementation remains a challenge. We designed an implementation strategy, based on peer assessment (PA) focusing on barriers to change in physical therapy care. A previously published randomized controlled trial showed that PA was more effective than the usual strategy “case discussion” in improving adherence to a low back pain guideline. Peer assessment aims to enhance knowledge, communication, and hands-on clinical skills consistent with guideline recommendations. Participants observed and evaluated clinical performance on the spot in a role-play simulating clinical practice. Participants performed three roles: physical therapist, assessor, and patient. This study explored the critical features of the PA program that contributed to improved guideline adherence in the perception of participants.
Methods
Dutch physical therapists working in primary care (n = 49) organized in communities of practice (n = 6) participated in the PA program. By unpacking the program we identified three main tasks and eleven subtasks. After the program was finished, a questionnaire was administered in which participants were asked to rank the program tasks from high to low learning value and to describe their impact on performance improvement. Overall ranking results were calculated. Additional semi-structured interviews were conducted to elaborate on the questionnaires results and were transcribed verbatim. Questionnaires comments and interview transcripts were analyzed using template analysis.
Results
Program tasks related to performance in the therapist role were perceived to have the highest impact on learning, although task perceptions varied from challenging to threatening. Perceptions were affected by the role-play format and the time schedule. Learning outcomes were awareness of performance, improved attitudes towards the guideline, and increased self-efficacy beliefs in managing patients with low back pain. Learning was facilitated by psychological safety and the quality of feedback.
Conclusion
The effectiveness of PA can be attributed to the structured and performance-based design of the program. Participants showed a strong cognitive and emotional commitment to performing the physical therapist role. That might have contributed to an increased awareness of strength and weakness in clinical performance and a motivation to change routine practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0484-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0484-1
PMCID: PMC4643538  PMID: 26563246
Peer assessment; Peer review; Guideline adherence; Knowledge translation; Performance assessment
2.  How do postgraduate GP trainees regulate their learning and what helps and hinders them? A qualitative study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:67.
Background
Self-regulation is essential for professional development. It involves monitoring of performance, identifying domains for improvement, undertaking learning activities, applying newly learned knowledge and skills and self-assessing performance. Since self-assessment alone is ineffective in identifying weaknesses, learners should seek external feedback too. Externally regulated educational interventions, like reflection, learning portfolios, assessments and progress meetings, are increasingly used to scaffold self-regulation.
The aim of this study is to explore how postgraduate trainees regulate their learning in the workplace, how external regulation promotes self-regulation and which elements facilitate or impede self-regulation and learning.
Methods
In a qualitative study with a phenomenologic approach we interviewed first- and third-year GP trainees from two universities in the Netherlands. Twenty-one verbatim transcripts were coded. Through iterative discussion the researchers agreed on the interpretation of the data and saturation was reached.
Results
Trainees used a short and a long self-regulation loop. The short loop took one week at most and was focused on problems that were easy to resolve and needed minor learning activities. The long loop was focused on complex or recurring problems needing multiple and planned longitudinal learning activities. External assessments and formal training affected the long but not the short loop. The supervisor had a facilitating role in both loops. Self-confidence was used to gauge competence.Elements influencing self-regulation were classified into three dimensions: personal (strong motivation to become a good doctor), interpersonal (stimulation from others) and contextual (organizational and educational features).
Conclusions
Trainees did purposefully self-regulate their learning. Learning in the short loop may not be visible to others. Trainees should be encouraged to actively seek and use external feedback in both loops. An important question for further research is which educational interventions might be used to scaffold learning in the short loop. Investing in supervisor quality remains important, since they are close to trainee learning in both loops.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-67
PMCID: PMC3479408  PMID: 22866981
Self-regulation; Workplace-based learning; Postgraduate training; Professional development; Qualitative research methods

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