Shadow Coaching Improves Patient Experience With Care, But Gains Erode Later

Published in: Medical Care, Volume 59, Number 11, pages 950–960 (November 2021). doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001629

Posted on on December 07, 2022

by Denise D. Quigley, Marc N. Elliott, Mary Ellen Slaughter, Q. Burkhart, Alex Y. Chen, Efrain Talamantes, Ron D. Hays


Health care organizations strive to improve patient care experiences. Some use one-on-one provider counseling (shadow coaching) to identify and target modifiable provider behaviors.


We examined whether shadow coaching improves patient experience across 44 primary care practices in a large urban Federally Qualified Health Center.

Research Design

Seventy-four providers with "medium" (ie, slightly below average) overall provider ratings received coaching and were compared with 246 uncoached providers. We fit mixed-effects regression models with random effects for provider (level of treatment assignment) and fixed effects for time (linear spline with a knot and "jump" at coaching date), patient characteristics and site indicators. By design, coached providers performed worse at selection; models account for the very small (0.2 point) regression-to-the-mean effects. We assessed differential effects by coach.


A total of 46,452 patients (from 320 providers) who completed the Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) Visit Survey 2.0.


CAHPS overall provider rating and provider communication composite (scaled 0–100).


Providers not chosen for coaching had a nonsignificant change in performance during the period when selected providers were coached. We observed a statistically significant 2-point (small-to-medium) jump among coached providers after coaching on the CAHPS overall provider rating and provider communication score. However, these gains disappeared after 2.5 years; effects differed by coach.


Shadow coaching improved providers' overall performance and communication immediately after being coached. Regularly planned shadow coaching "booster" sessions might maintain or even increase the improvement gained in patient experience scores, but research examining additional coaching and optimal implementation is needed.

Research conducted by

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