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Keywords:

  • feedback;
  • medical education;
  • internal medicine;
  • ambulatory care;
  • residents

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether residents perceived oral, face-to-face feedback about their continuity clinic performance as better than a similar, written version.

DESIGN:

Single-blind, randomized controlled trial.

SETTING:

Two university-based, internal medicine residency clinics.

PARTICIPANTS:

All 68 internal medicine and combined program (medicine-pediatrics, medicine-psychiatry, medicine-neurology, and preliminary year) residents and their clinic preceptors.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Residents at each program were separately randomized to oral or written feedback sessions with their clinic preceptors. The oral and written sessions followed similar, structured formats. Both groups were later sent questionnaires about aspects of the clinic. Sixty-five (96%) of the residents completed the questionnaire. Eight of the 19 questions dealt with aspects of feedback. A feedback scale was developed from the survey responses to those eight questions (α = .86). There were no significant differences in the responses to individual questions or in scale means (p > .20) between the two feedback groups. When each university was analyzed separately, one had a higher scale mean (3.10 vs 3.57, p = .047), but within each university, there were no differences between the oral and written feedback groups (p > .20).

CONCLUSIONS:

No differences were observed between the oral and written feedback groups. In attempting to provide better feedback to their residents, medical educators may better apply their efforts to other aspects, such as the frequency of their feedback, rather than the form of its delivery.