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Identity matters - perceptions of inter-professional feedback in the context of workplace-based assessment in Diabetology training: a qualitative study

  • Feller, Katrin1
  • Berendonk, Christoph2
  • 1 Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland , Bern (Switzerland)
  • 2 University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland , Bern (Switzerland)
Published Article
BMC Medical Education
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Feb 03, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-020-1932-0
Springer Nature


BackgroundInter-professional collaboration is acknowledged as essential for quality patient-care. However, little is known about receptiveness to inter-professional feedback in the postgraduate training. This study explores, in light of social identity theory, the perceptions of residents, supervising physicians and allied health care professionals regarding inter-professional feedback in the context of workplace-based assessment.MethodsFor 6 months, residents in Diabetology at the University Hospital of Bern performed formative workplace-based assessments under direct observation of a supervising physician and an allied health care professional. Feedback from both observers was given to the resident after every assessment. Subsequently, focus group discussions were conducted to collect the participants’ perceptions of inter- and intra-professional feedback. Transcripts were analyzed qualitatively using a thematic analysis approach.ResultsWe identified four main themes: (1) Identity and hierarchy; (2) Interdependence of feedback source and feedback content; (3) Impact on collaboration and patient-care; (4) Logistical and organizational requirements. While different social identities are the source of inter-professional hierarchies, they did not impede the receptiveness to feedback. Perceived trustworthiness of the feedback was attributed with more importance than professional affiliations, whereas intra-professional hierarchies between physicians led to the perception of a more summative nature of the feedback and rather impeded receptiveness. According to the participants, inter-professional feedback raised awareness of the working reality of other team members and had a positive impact on communication between the different professional groups. Moreover, participants reported positive response from patients regarding the inter-professional collaboration they experienced. Considerable organizational effort is required to enable the parallel observation of a resident’s consultation by a supervising physician and an allied health care professional.ConclusionsFeedback from allied health care professionals can be a valuable learning resource for residents, given its role outside the sometimes conflicting area of intra-professional hierarchies. Inter-professional feedback in the context of workplace-based assessment carries the potential to strengthen collaboration between the different professional groups.

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