Comprehensive feedback on trainee surgeons' non-technical skills

Lene Spanager1, Peter Dieckmann1, Randi Beier-Holgersen2, Jacob Rosenberg3 and Doris Oestergaard1

1Danish Institute for Medical Simulation, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

2Department of Surgery, Hilleroed Hospital, Denmark

3Department of Surgery, Herlev Hospital, Denmark

Submitted: 19/09/2014; Accepted: 12/01/2015; Published: 20/01/2015

Int J Med Educ. 2015; 6:4-11; doi: 10.5116/ijme.54b4.2196

© 2015 Lene Spanager et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the content of conversations, feedback style, and perceived usefulness of feedback to trainee surgeons when conversations were stimulated by a tool for assessing surgeons' non-technical skills.

Methods: Trainee surgeons and their supervisors used the Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons in Denmark tool to stimulate feedback conversations. Audio recordings of post-operation feedback conversations were collected. Trainees and supervisors provided questionnaire responses on the usefulness and comprehensiveness of the feedback. The feedback conversations were qualitatively analyzed for content and feedback style. Usefulness was investigated using a scale from 1 to 5 and written comments were qualitatively analyzed.

Results: Six trainees and six supervisors participated in eight feedback conversations. Eighty questionnaires (response rate 83 percent) were collected from 13 trainees and 12 supervisors. Conversations lasted median eight (2-15) minutes. Supervisors used the elements and categories in the tool to structure the content of the conversations. Supervisors tended to talk about the trainees' actions and their own frames rather than attempting to understand the trainees' perceptions. Supervisors and trainees welcomed the feedback opportunity and agreed that the conversations were useful and comprehensive.

Conclusions: The content of the feedback conversations reflected the contents of the tool and the feedback was considered useful and comprehensive. However, supervisors talked primarily about their own frames, so in order for the feedback to reach its full potential, supervisors may benefit from training techniques to stimulate a deeper reflection among trainees.