Follow-Up Shadow Coaching Improves Primary Care Provider-Patient Interactions and Maintains Improvements When Conducted Regularly: A Spline Model Analysis

J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Jan;38(1):221-227. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07881-y. Epub 2022 Nov 7.


Introduction: Shadow coaching improves provider-patient interactions, as measured by CG-CAHPS® overall provider rating (OPR) and provider communication (PC). However, these improvements erode over time.

Aim: Examine whether a second coaching session (re-coaching) improves and sustains patient experience.

Setting: Large, urban Federally Qualified Health Center PROGRAM: Trained providers observed patient care by colleagues and provided suggestions for improvement. Providers with OPRs<90 (0-100-point scale) were eligible.

Evaluation: We used stratified randomization based on provider type and OPR to assign half of the 40 eligible providers to re-coaching. For OPR and PC, we fit mixed-effects regression models with random-effects for provider (level of treatment assignment) and fixed-effects for time (linear spline with knots and possible "jump" at initial coaching and re-coaching), previous OPR, patient characteristics, and sites. We observed a statistically significant medium jump among re-coached providers after re-coaching on OPR (3.7 points) and PC (3.5 points); differences of 1, 3, and ≥5-points for CAHPS measures are considered small, medium, and large. Improvements from re-coaching persisted for 12 months for OPR and 8 months for PC.

Discussion: Re-coaching improved patient experience more than initial coaching, suggesting the reactivation of knowledge from initial coaching. However, re-coaching gains also eroded. Coaching should occur every 6 to 12 months to maintain behaviors and scores.

Keywords: CAHPS; coaching; patient experience; provider performance; spline models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mentoring*
  • Primary Health Care