Effectiveness of an enhanced peer assessment program: introducing education into regulatory assessment

J Contin Educ Health Prof. Summer 2006;26(3):199-208. doi: 10.1002/chp.70.


Introduction: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario developed an enhanced peer assessment (EPA), the goal of which was to provide participating physicians educational value by helping them identify specific learning needs and aligning the assessment process with the principles of continuing education and professional development. In this article, we examine the educational value of the EPA and whether physicians will change their practice as a result of the recommendations received during the assessment.

Methods: A group of 41 randomly selected physicians (23 general or family practitioners, 7 obstetrician-gynecologists, and 11 general surgeons) agreed to participate in the EPA pilot. Nine experienced peer assessors were trained in the principles of knowledge translation and the use of practice resources (tool kits) and clinical practice guidelines. The EPA was evaluated through the use of a postassessment questionnaire and focus groups.

Results: The physicians felt that the EPA was fair and educationally valuable. Most focus group participants indicated that they implemented recommendations made by the assessor and made changes to some aspect of their practice. The physicians' suggestions for improvement included expanding the assessment beyond the current medical record review and interview format (eg, to include multisource feedback), having assessments occur at regular intervals (eg, every 5 to 10 years), and improving the administrative process by which physicians apply for educational credit for EPA activities.

Conclusions: The EPA pilot study has demonstrated that providing detailed individualized feedback and optimizing the one-to-one interaction between assessors and physicians is a promising method for changing physician behavior. The college has started the process of aligning all its peer assessments with the principles of continuing professional development outlined in the EPA model.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medicine
  • Ontario
  • Peer Review / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Specialization