Monday, September 11, 2006

Physicians (Like Everyone Else) are Poor at Self-Assessment

The most recent JAMA has a literature review on how well physicians’ self-assessments compare with external ratings/outcomes of various sorts. The sad but apparently true answer: Not very well. Of course, if you’ve been reading psychological research by the likes of Dunning and colleagues, this will surprise you very little.

Summary: A minority of studies found a positive relationship between self-assessment and external ratings, but most found no relationship or a negative relationship. An analysis based on a small subset of studies found that the physicians who rated themselves highest on self-assessments actually showed the poorest performance on varied external criteria.

In other words, the accuracy of self-assessment is generally poor, but even more so among people who are the most confident. Check out the abstract here.

“Taken together, these conclusions prompt reflection on the use of self-rated assessment and its role in lifelong learning and value in regulation and patient care” (p. 1100).

My advice: Watch out for cockiness amongst yourselves and your peers and seek to find ways of validating your self-assessments.

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