Professional development course improves unprofessional physician behaviors

Jan. 30, 2020

A new study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety evaluates the effectiveness of a professional development program on unprofessional physician behaviors. Findings show that the “Program for Distressed Physicians” (PDP) helped positively modify unprofessional behavior by physicians.

In the study, “A Professional Development Course Improves Unprofessional Physician Behavior,” a pre-post study design was used to measure changes in physicians’ unprofessional behaviors using the B29, a 35-item, web-based survey. The survey was completed as a 360-degree assessment by peers, colleagues, administrators and staff, as well as a self-assessment from the physician.

The three-day course, followed by three one-day sessions spread over six months, taught physicians how to:

·        Replace unprofessional behavior with professional behavior

·         Promote peer accountability and support

·         Identify risk factors and prevention strategies

·         Practice new skills

·         Promote effective leadership skills

Twenty-four of 28 physicians in the study experienced an improvement in professional behavior. The mean decrease of unprofessional behavior for all 28 physicians was 51.1% and lowest-rated items improved an average of 53.5% overall. Negative behaviors that declined after the PDP included egregious behaviors and passive-aggressive behaviors. Positive behaviors that increased after the PDP included teamwork, peer relations, and patient/family orientation and empathy.

“Hospitals, physician practices and other health care institutions should not only have written standards and policies that set expectations for physician professional behavior but should also address unprofessional behavior in a strict but fair way, using an approach that escalates from coaching and counseling to punitive measures if the undesirable behavior persists,” notes Gautham K. Suresh, MD, DM, MS, FAAP, in an accompanying editorial.

Joint Commission has the announcement