Multisource Feedback is currently an established method to obtain information on individuals at workplace. It is an essential component to be able to continue careers for doctors in the UK as it is a requirement for revalidation to remain on the medical register.
On colleague MSF a GMC report states:
‘There was evidence of systematic bias amongst some groups of colleague respondents in respect of assessments provided’
‘Certain doctor characteristics appeared to predict systematic variation in colleague assessments.’
‘In interpreting data arising from such surveys of colleagues, consideration should be given to the possibility of systematic bias in a colleague’s report based on non-clinical aspects of care, as well as the extent of colleagues’ familiarity with the doctor.’
On Patient MSF a GMC report states:
'There was evidence of systematic bias in reporting amongst some groups of patient
'In interpreting data arising from such surveys of patients, consideration should
be given to the possibility of systematic bias in a patient’s report based on nonclinical aspects of care, as well as the socio-demographic profile of the patient
Software systems that are used for MSF have begun to use benchmarking – it is not clear if these benchmarks are statistically adjusted or standardized to consider and recalibrate for these biases. It is also not known whether the software systems identify these biases and inform the doctor that the responses could be impeded by biases.
It is not clear if doctors undergoing revalidation for GMC licence to practice are explicitly informed of these biases and offered guidance and support on how to choose MSF respondents to negate the existing biases or counselling on how to recognise, challenge and deal with any biases that becomes apparent.
Appraiser training does have an EDI component, but it is unsure if this training includes methods on how to consider these biases including any undue positive biases?
There are publications that suggest that the MSF could be one of the triggers that may be used when considering performance. This makes any issues regarding bias paramount to the topic.
It is very important to prevent issues – unfortunately it may be the case that the MSF methodology as currently implemented for doctors (and perhaps other health professionals) has a built-in flaw in the structure when it does not consider and adjust for biases.
Doctors should be aware of this and be prepared to address this issue should it affect them. Doctors’ organisations should resolve this at the earliest opportunity.