Feedback for Learners in Medical Education: What Is Known? A Scoping Review.

Robert Bing-You
Victoria Hayes
Kalli Varaklis
Robert Trowbridge
Heather Kemp
Dina McKelvy


PURPOSE: To conduct a scoping review of the literature on feedback for learners in medical education.

METHOD: In 2015-2016, the authors searched the Ovid MEDLINE, ERIC, CINAHL, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, Web of Science, and Scopus databases and seven medical education journals (via OvidSP) for articles published January 1980-December 2015. Two reviewers screened articles for eligibility with inclusion criteria. All authors extracted key data and analyzed data descriptively.

RESULTS: The authors included 650 articles in the review. More than half (n = 341) were published during 2010-2015. Many centered on medical students (n = 274) or residents (n = 192); some included learners from other disciplines (n = 57). Most (n = 633) described methods used for giving feedback; some (n = 95) described opinions and recommendations regarding feedback. Few studies assessed approaches to feedback with randomized, educational trials (n = 49) or described changes in learner behavior after feedback (n = 49). Even fewer assessed the impact of feedback on patient outcomes (n = 28).

CONCLUSIONS: Feedback is considered an important means of improving learner performance, as evidenced by the number of articles outlining recommendations for feedback approaches. The literature on feedback for learners in medical education is broad, fairly recent, and generally describes new or altered curricular approaches that involve feedback for learners. High-quality, evidence-based recommendations for feedback are lacking. In addition to highlighting calls to reassess the concepts and complex nature of feedback interactions, the authors identify several areas that require further investigation.