Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 901–915 | Cite as

Effectiveness of a training program in supervisors’ ability to provide feedback on residents’ communication skills

  • Noelle Junod Perron
  • Mathieu Nendaz
  • Martine Louis-Simonet
  • Johanna Sommer
  • Anne Gut
  • Anne Baroffio
  • Diana Dolmans
  • Cees van der Vleuten


Teaching communication skills (CS) to residents during clinical practice remains problematic. Direct observation followed by feedback is a powerful way to teach CS in clinical practice. However, little is known about the effect of training on feedback skills in this field. Controlled studies are scarce as well as studies that go beyond self-reported data. The aim of the study was to develop and assess the effectiveness of a training program for clinical supervisors on how to give feedback on residents’ CS in clinical practice. The authors designed a pretest–posttest controlled study in which clinical supervisors working in two different medical services were invited to attend a sequenced and multifaceted program in teaching CS over a period of 6–9 months. Outcome measures were self-perceived and observed feedback skills collected during questionnaires and three videotaped objective structured teaching encounters. The videotaped feedbacks made by the supervisors were analysed using a 20-item feedback rating instrument. Forty-eight clinical supervisors participated (28 in the intervention, 20 in the control group). After training, a higher percentage of trained participants self-reported and demonstrated statistically significant improvement in making residents more active by exploring residents’ needs, stimulating self-assessment, and using role playing to test strategies and checking understanding, with effect sizes ranging from 0.93 to 4.94. A training program on how to give feedback on residents’ communication skills was successful in improving clinical supervisors’ feedback skills and in helping them operate a shift from a teacher-centered to a more learner-centered approach.


Faculty development Feedback Postgraduate Communication skills 



The study was approved by the Geneva University Hospital Research Ethics Committee. The authors thank all the clinical supervisors who took part into the study, Florence Demaurex for her help in videotaping the clinical encounters and Bernard Cerutti for his statistical expertise.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelle Junod Perron
    • 1
  • Mathieu Nendaz
    • 2
  • Martine Louis-Simonet
    • 2
  • Johanna Sommer
    • 3
  • Anne Gut
    • 3
  • Anne Baroffio
    • 3
  • Diana Dolmans
    • 4
  • Cees van der Vleuten
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Primary Care Medicine, Department of Community Care, Primary Care and EmergencyGeneva University HospitalsGeneva 4Switzerland
  2. 2.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation and Geriatric MedicineGeneva University HospitalsGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineGeneva UniversityGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department for Educational Development and Research, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML)Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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