Monday, August 3, 2015

Have you been served a feedback sandwich lately?

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

You may have heard of the term “feedback sandwich”. If you have not, you may be wondering if this type of sandwich comes with a dill potato salad and a large drink; at least I did.

Unfortunately, it does not.

The feedback sandwich is a type of feedback that is practiced by doctors and managers who have a hard time providing negative (but useful) feedback to their patients or employees. The basic recipe for a feedback sandwich consists of one specific criticism “sandwiched” between two specific praises. In this case, the praise could refer to a positive comment (e.g., something that was done well); the middle (or meat) of the sandwich could refer to an area that needs improvement; and the bottom slice of bread would be another positive comment, to end the session or meeting on an upbeat note.

However, some opponents of the feedback sandwich argue that it is absurd and that it unveils and exposes doctors and managers who are fearful and meek as opposed to assertive and self-confident. Instead, a more direct and transparent feedback strategy should be provided. This more transparent strategy consists of

·       Telling the patient or employee about one area that needs improvement.

·       Addressing how the patient or employee could possibly improve in that particular area, i.e., provide realistic examples.

·       Linking their failings to their real impact on their health or on the business.

Have you been served a feedback sandwich lately?


Schawrz, R. (2013). The “sandwich feedback” undermines your feedback. Retrieved from:

Healthfield, S.M. (n.d.). Ban the feedback sandwich for employee feedback. Retrieved from:



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