Impact of performance and information feedback on medical interns' confidence–accuracy calibration

J. Staal*, K. Katarya, M. Speelman, R. Brand, J. Alsma, J. Sloane, W. W. Van den Broek, L. Zwaan

*Corresponding author for this work

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Diagnostic errors are a major, largely preventable, patient safety concern. Error interventions cannot feasibly be implemented for every patient that is seen. To identify cases at high risk of error, clinicians should have a good calibration between their perceived and actual accuracy. This experiment studied the impact of feedback on medical interns’ calibration and diagnostic process. In a two-phase experiment, 125 medical interns from Dutch University Medical Centers were randomized to receive no feedback (control), feedback on their accuracy (performance feedback), or feedback with additional information on why a certain diagnosis was correct (information feedback) on 20 chest X-rays they diagnosed in a feedback phase. A test phase immediately followed this phase and had all interns diagnose an additional 10 X-rays without feedback. Outcome measures were confidence–accuracy calibration, diagnostic accuracy, confidence, and time to diagnose. Both feedback types improved overall confidence–accuracy calibration (R2No Feedback = 0.05, R2Performance Feedback = 0.12, R2Information Feedback = 0.19), in line with the individual improvements in diagnostic accuracy and confidence. We also report secondary analyses to examine how case difficulty affected calibration. Time to diagnose did not differ between conditions. Feedback improved interns’ calibration. However, it is unclear whether this improvement reflects better confidence estimates or an improvement in accuracy. Future research should examine more experienced participants and non-visual specialties. Our results suggest that feedback is an effective intervention that could be beneficial as a tool to improve calibration, especially in cases that are not too difficult for learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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