Background: The ability of physicians to critically reflect on their professional practice has been increasingly valued. Previous research brought to light the multidimensional structure of reflective practice in medicine. It comprises at least five sets of behaviours in response to complex medical problems encountered in professional practice. Factors associated to reflective practice among physicians have, as far as we know, not yet been explored by empirical study.
Purpose: To study factors correlated to reflective practice among physicians. Methods: A questionnaire exploring characteristics of professional practice and educational experiences was administered to primary health care physicians. Measurements were related to scores on a reflective practice measuring instrument developed previously. Associations between variables were examined by statistical analysis with tests of correlation and analysis of variance. Results: Reflective practice is negatively correlated to physician’s age and number of years of clinical practice. Working mainly in hospitals and attendance to medical residency programmes in some specialties apparently have a positive effect on reflective practice. Conclusion: Reflective practice tends to decrease with experience. Findings are consistent with the literature on medical expertise that shows a decline of analytical reasoning in proportion to the increase in experience. Some specialty programmes seems to enhance concerns with the scientific basis to professional practice, thereby favouring reflective approaches. Local features of primary health care settings probably explain their negative effect on reflective practice. Strategies to develop reflective practice among physicians should be explored by further research.
medical expertisereflective practicecritical thinkingclinical reasoningmedical education