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30-04-2012 | Article

Revalidation feedback concerns


Br J Gen Pr 2012; 62: e314-e321

GPs have raised concerns about using patient and colleague feedback for revalidation purposes.

Interviews with 12 GPs who had recently completed the proposed GMC multisource feedback questionnaires revealed that most were worried about at least some aspects, such as self-selection of colleagues and potentially subjective responses.

The researchers who conducted the study, Professor John Campbell and colleagues at the University of Exeter, say such concerns may undermine the credibility of multisource feedback as a tool for identifying poor performance.

Their findings, published in this month's issue of the British Journal of General Practice, showed that all of the GPs and their appraisers supported use of some form of multisource feedback. Appraisers felt it enables GPs to reflect on their practice, while GPs saw it as a useful opportunity to learn and develop. But most also reported fears that, for example, colleagues may be insufficiently familiar with a doctor's clinical practice to give accurate feedback, that doctors may - albeit unintentionally - select colleagues who are more likely to give favourable feedback, or that colleagues may not complete the forms honestly for fear of damaging working relations.

Many perceived problems in using the feedback as evidence for revalidation because, for example, it could prevent doctors from exploring difficulties openly. One appraiser even said: "I'm advising people not to put anything in [appraisal documentation] that they might find a bit exposing... I don't want to put anybody in a position where something that was written down... could be used in evidence against them."

Revalidation lead Professor Mike Pringle says in an editorial that such tension may "not be as important as it first appears", however. "A safe, effective doctor is continuously reflecting and learning, striving for improvement, and using colleagues and patients as a reference point to understand how and where they should refine their practice," he writes.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price