Young doctors score highest in pilot of 360-degree feedback

GMC-funded study finds revalidation tool 'tougher for older doctors'.

Young doctors have emerged with shining halos from the first formal UK assessment of 360-degree multi-source feedback.

Young doctors outscored older colleagues in the GMC-funded £200,000 study into a key element of revalidation.

Multi-source feedback requires patients and colleagues to assess a doctor's skills.

Using questionnaires developed by the GMC, research led by Professor John Campbell, professor of general practice and primary care at Peninsula Medical School, Devon, showed responses were 'highly skewed towards favourable impressions of doctor performance'.

Research also showed that patients and colleagues rated 'different and complementary' aspects of doctors' performance, showing that both sources of feedback are needed.

The researchers cautioned against 'identifying any of the doctors in the study as displaying deficient performance', warning that more research is needed to see whether good questionnaire ratings accurately reflect professional performance.

When GPs from 11 PCTs volunteered to ask up to 26 colleagues, including managers and nurses, how well they were performing, they scored 4.71 out of a maximum score of five.

Consecutive patients completing a post-consultation exit survey gave the doctors mean ratings of 4.68-4.88 out of five.

Professor Campbell is now working on embedding the 360-degree feedback into GP appraisal in a handful of PCTs.

Professor Steve Field, RCGP chairman, said: 'Feedback from patients and staff is probably something that will be very useful in revalidation.'

The RCGP has commissioned a Canadian expert to carry out an external review of all available tools and is expected to report later this year.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

Quality and Safety in Health Care 2008;17: 187-93

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