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Survey tool helps assess physician behavior training

Feb. 12, 2015, 9:07 AM

Professional behavior specialists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are using a new survey tool to determine the effectiveness of training courses to help physicians correct disruptive workplace behavior.

The Center for Professional Health, which provides training to doctors and health care workers from across the country, developed the survey as a way to provide feedback to the physicians both before and after attending a course on disruptive behavior.

“Some physicians go years without getting direct feedback about how they perform as a manager or leader,” said William Swiggart, M.S., LPC, who is a co-director of the center.

“People just don’t tell them, either because they’re at the top of the food chain, they’re the boss, they fear retribution or other similar concerns. That can lead to unpleasant environments for many of the staff members.”

The 35-question survey, which is called the B-29, focuses on several aspects of the individual — personal demeanor, willingness or ability to keep up with hospital timeliness and tasks, whether the physician avoids egregious behavior and general bedside manner. It can be completed in about 20 minutes.

Feedback from the survey is essential to help physicians understand how others perceive them, Swiggart said. The physician and at least 11 other workplace team members also complete the survey to allow those results to be compared.

The survey tool has been in use for several years and was developed by the Center for Professional Health and behavior specialists at the Professional Renewal Center in Lawrence, Kansas.

In a bid to shorten the time needed to analyze the data from the survey, Marine Ghulyan, a Vanderbilt research analyst, recently developed a computer program to automatically calculate the results — reducing the time needed from hours to minutes.

The center, which Swiggart co-directs along with Charlene Dewey, M.D., M.Ed, was formed in 1998 to serve as a health and wellness resource for doctors, with a focus on training on proper prescribing of controlled substances. The center now offers continuing education classes in other topics, including maintaining proper sexual boundaries at work and disruptive behavior.

Observations from using the new survey and validation studies were published last fall in an article for Physician Leadership Journal. Swiggart joined with Dewey, Ghulyan, Kenneth Wallston, Ph.D., professor of Nursing and Psychology, and the specialists at the Professional Renewal Center, in writing about the results.

“Many physicians demonstrating unprofessional behavior are passionate about patient care but lack the skills to function as a member of the health care team,” they wrote in the article. “All of this is very important when individual careers and livelihoods are at stake as well as the culture of safety in health care.”

The article is available here.

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