Open Access Research article

Factors influencing trainers’ feedback-giving behavior: a cross-sectional survey

Elisabeth AM Pelgrim1, Anneke WM Kramer1*, Henk GA Mokkink1 and Cees PM van der Vleuten2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primary Care and Community Care, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Postbus 9101, Huispostnummer 117, 6500 HB Nijmegen, the Netherlands

2 Department of Educational Development and Research, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:65  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-65

Published: 1 April 2014



The literature provides some insight into the role of feedback givers, but little information about within-trainer factors influencing ‘feedback-giving behaviours’. We looked for relationships between characteristics of feedback givers (self-efficacy, task perception, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness) and elements of observation and feedback (frequency, quality of content and consequential impact).


We developed and tested several hypotheses regarding the characteristics and elements in a cross-sectional digital survey among GP trainers and their trainees in 2011 and 2012. We conducted bivariate analysis using Pearson correlations and performed multiple regression analysis.


Sixty-two trainer-trainee couples from three Dutch institutions for postgraduate GP training participated in the study. Trainer scores on ‘task perception’ and on a scale of the trait ‘neuroticism’ correlated positively with frequency of feedback and quality of feedback content. Multiple regression analysis supported positive correlations between task perception and frequency of feedback and between neuroticism and quality of feedback content. No other correlations were found.


This study contributes to the literature on feedback giving by revealing factors that influence feedback-giving behaviour, namely neuroticism and task perception. Trainers whose task perception included facilitation of observation and feedback (task perception) and trainers who were concerned about the safety of their patients during consultations with trainees (neuroticism) engaged more frequently in observation and feedback and gave feedback of higher quality.

Feedback-giving; Neuroticism; Task perception; Big five