Multi-source feedback (MSF) offers doctors feedback on their performance from peers (medical colleagues), coworkers and patients. Researchers increasingly point to the fact that only a small majority of doctors (60–70 percent) benefit from MSF. Building on medical education and social psychology literature, the authors identified several factors that may influence change in response to MSF. Subsequently, they quantitatively studied the factors that advance the use of MSF for practice change.
This observational study was set in 26 non-academic hospitals in the Netherlands. In total, 458 specialists participated in the MSF program. Besides the collation of questionnaires, the Dutch MSF program is composed of a reflective portfolio and a facilitative interview aimed at increasing the acceptance and use of MSF. All specialists who finished a MSF procedure between May 2008 and September 2010 were invited to complete an evaluation form. The dependent variable was self-reported change. Three categories of independent variables (personal characteristics, experiences with the assessments and mean MSF ratings) were included in the analysis. Multivariate regression analysis techniques were used to identify the relation between the independent variables and specialists’ reported change in actual practice.
In total, 238 medical specialists (response rate 52 percent) returned an evaluation form and participated in the study. A small majority (55 percent) of specialists reported to have changed their professional performance in one or more aspects in response to MSF. Regression analyses revealed that two variables had the most effect on reported change. Perceived quality of mentoring positively influenced reported change (regression coefficient beta = 0.527, p < 0.05) as did negative scores offered by colleagues. (regression coefficient beta = −0.157, p < 0.05). The explained variance of these two variables combined was 34 percent.
Perceived quality of mentoring and MSF ratings from colleagues seem to be the main motivators for the self-reported change in response to MSF by specialists. These insights could leverage in increasing the use of MSF for practice change by investing in the quality of mentors.