When Feedback Backfires: Influences of Negative Discrepancies Between Physicians' Self and Assessors' Scores on Their Subsequent Multisource Feedback Ratings

M.W. van der Meulen*, O.A. Arah, S. Heeneman, M.G.A.O. Egbrink, C.P.M. van der Vleuten, K.M.J.M.H. Lombarts

*Corresponding author for this work

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Introduction: With multisource feedback (MSF) physicians might overrate their own performance compared with scores received from assessors. However, there is limited insight into how perceived divergent feedback affects physicians' subsequent performance scores. Methods: During 2012 to 2018, 103 physicians were evaluated twice by 684 peers, 242 residents, 999 coworkers, and themselves in three MSF performance domains. Mixed-effect models quantified associations between the outcome variable "score changes" between first and second MSF evaluations, and the explanatory variable "negative discrepancy score" (number of items that physicians rated themselves higher compared with their assessors' scores) at the first MSF evaluation. Whether associations differed across assessor groups and across a physician's years of experience as a doctor was analyzed too. Results: Forty-nine percent of physicians improved their total MSF score at the second evaluation, as assessed by others. Number of negative discrepancies was negatively associated with score changes in domains "organization and (self)management" (b = -0.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.03 to -0.02; SE = 0.004) and "patient-centeredness" (b = -0.03; 95% CI, -0.03 to -0.02; SE = 0.004). For "professional attitude," only negative associations between score changes and negative discrepancies existed for physicians with more than 6-year experience (b(6-10yearsofexperience) = -0.03; 95% CI, -0.05 to -0.003; SE = 0.01; b(16-20yearsofexperience) = -0.03; 95% CI, -0.06 to -0.004; SE = 0.01). Discussion: The extent of performance improvement was less for physicians confronted with negative discrepancies. Performance scores actually declined when physicians overrated themselves on more than half of the feedback items. PA score changes of more experienced physicians confronted with negative discrepancies and were affected more adversely. These physicians might have discounted feedback due to having more confidence in own performance. Future work should investigate how MSF could improve physicians' performance taking into account physicians' confidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • continuing professional development
  • multisource feedback
  • performance improvement
  • physicians' professional performance
  • score changes
  • experience
  • workplace-based assessment
  • TOOL

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