Relationships as the backbone of feedback: Exploring preceptor and resident perceptions of their behaviors during feedback conversations

Subha Ramani, Karen D. Könings, Shiphra Ginsburg, Cees P. M. van der Vleuten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Newer definitions of feedback emphasize learner engagement throughout the conversation, yet teacher and learner perceptions of each other's behaviors during feedback exchanges have been less well studied. This study explored perceptions of residents and faculty regarding effective behaviors and strategies during feedback conversations and factors that affected provision and acceptance of constructive feedback. Method Six outpatient internal medicine preceptors and 12 residents at Brigham and Women's Hospital participated (2 dyads per preceptor) between September 2017 and May 2018. Their scheduled feedback conversations were observed by the lead investigator, and one-on-one interviews were conducted with each member of the dyad to explore their perceptions of the conversation. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed for key themes. Because participants repeatedly emphasized teacher-learner relationships as key to meaningful feedback, a framework method of analysis was performed using the 3-step relationship-centered communication model REDE (relationship establishment, development, and engagement). Results After participant narratives were mapped onto the REDE model, key themes were identified and categorized under the major steps of the model. First, establishment: Revisit and renew established relationships, preparation allows deeper reflection on goals, set a collaborative agenda. Second, development: Provide a safe space to invite self-reflection, make it about a skill or action. Third, engagement: Enhance self-efficacy at the close, establish action plans for growth. Conclusions Feedback conversations between longitudinal teacher-learner dyads could be mapped onto a relationship-centered communication framework. Our study suggests that behaviors that enable trusting and supportive teacher-learner relationships can form the foundation of meaningful feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1081
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date27 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

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