Quality of Operative Performance Feedback Given to Thoracic Surgery Residents Using an App-Based System

Azad S. Karim, Joel M. Sternbach, Edward M. Bender, Joseph B. Zwischenberger, Shari L. Meyerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective Residents frequently report inadequate feedback both in quantity and quality. The study evaluates the quality of faculty feedback about operative performance given using an app-based system. Design Residents requested operative performance evaluation from faculty on a real-time basis using the “Zwisch Me!!” mobile application which allows faculty to provide brief written feedback. Qualitative analysis of feedback was performed using grounded theory. Setting The 7 academic medical centers with thoracic surgery training programs. Participants Volunteer thoracic surgery residents in both integrated and traditional training pathways and their affiliated cardiothoracic faculty. Results Residents (n = 33) at 7 institutions submitted a total of 596 evaluations to faculty (n = 48). Faculty acknowledged the evaluation request in 476 cases (80%) and in 350 cases (74%) provided written feedback. Initial open coding generated 12 categories of feedback type. We identified 3 overarching themes. The first theme was the tone of the feedback. Encouraging elements were identified in 162 comments (46%) and corrective elements in 230 (65%). The second theme was the topic of the feedback. Surgical technique was the most common category at 148 comments (42.2%) followed by preparation for case (n = 69, 19.7%). The final theme was the specificity of the feedback. Just over half of comments (n = 190, 54.3%) contained specific feedback, which could be applied to future cases. However, 51 comments (14.6%) contained no useful information for the learners. Conclusions An app-based system resulted in thoracic surgery residents receiving identifiable feedback in a high proportion of cases. In over half of comments the feedback was specific enough to allow improvement. Feedback was better quality when addressing error prevention and surgical technique but was less useful when addressing communication, flow of the case, and assisting. Faculty development around feedback should focus on making feedback specific and actionable, avoiding case descriptions, or simple platitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e81-e87
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Medical Knowledge
  • Patient Care
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Systems-Based Practice
  • feedback
  • qualitative study
  • surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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