Context: A general practice vocational training program.
Objectives: To examine the impacts and implications of different models of systematic patient feedback on the development of general practice (GP) registrars' interpersonal skills as they progressed through a GP vocational training program.
Design: A longitudinal study in which GP registrars were randomly assigned to three models of patient feedback: a control group and two intervention groups. The major source of data gathering was through the Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire (DISQ) which was administered to patients immediately after their consultation.
Subjects: 210 GP registrars, 104 GP supervisors and 28 156 patients.
Results: Multivariate analysis techniques (including repeated-measures analysis) tested the effectiveness of the interventions. Findings showed that systematic patient feedback at regular intervals throughout GP training resulted in sustained levels of interpersonal skills. The most significant gains in interpersonal skills for both intervention groups occurred in the earlier stages of general practice training. Most registrars found the experience of patient feedback useful for gaining a better understanding of their interpersonal skills and for identifying areas in which they needed to improve. GP supervisors valued the opportunity to receive patient feedback themselves and found the activity a useful adjunct to their preceptor role.
Conclusions: Patients, by providing feedback on doctors' interpersonal skills, have been able to contribute to improving the quality of the patient-doctor interaction. GP registrars and their supervisors value highly the role of patient feedback in interpersonal skill development.