Monday, August 8, 2011

New Papers of Interest

Mirtz T, Perle S. The prevalence of the term subluxation in North American English-Language Doctor of chiropractic programs. Chiro Man Ther 2011; 2011,19:14

Background: The subluxation construct has been a divisive term in the chiropractic profession. There is a paucity of evidence to document the subluxation. Some authors have questioned the propriety of continuing to use the term.
Aim: The purpose of this study is to examine current North American English language chiropractic college academic catalogs and determine the prevalence of the term subluxation in the respective chiropractic program curricula.
Methods: Sixteen current English-language North American chiropractic college academic catalogs were studied. The term subluxation was searched for in each of the catalogs. Categories were developed for the usage of the term. These included "total times mentioned", "subluxation mentioned in a course description", "subluxation mentioned in a course title", "subluxation mentioned in a technique course description", and "subluxation mentioned in a philosophy course description." The prevalence of the "subluxation mentioned in a course description" was compared to the total programmatic curriculum.
Results: Palmer College in Florida devoted 22.72% of its curriculum to courses mentioning the subluxation followed by Life University (Marietta, GA) and Sherman College with 16.44% and 12.80% respectively. As per specific coursework or subjects, an average of 5.22 courses or subjects have descriptions mentioning the term subluxation. Three schools made no mention of the term subluxation in their academic catalogs; they were National University of Health Sciences, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, and Southern California University of Health Sciences.
Conclusion: Despite the controversies and paucity of evidence the term subluxation is still found often within the chiropractic curricula of most North American chiropractic programs. Future research should determine if changes in accreditation standards and research on evidence based practice will affect this prevalence.

White MR, Jacobson IG, Smith B, Wells TS, Gackstetter GD, Boyko EJ, Smith TC and the Millennial Cohort Study team. Health care utilization among complementary and alternative medicine users in a large military cohort. BMC Compl Alternative Med 2011,11:27

Background: Complementary and Alternative Medicine use and how it impacts health care utilization in the United States Military is not well documented. Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study we describe the characteristics of CAM users in a large military population and document their health care needs over a 12-month period. The aim of this study was to determine if CAM users are requiring more physician-based medical services than users of conventional medicine.
Methods: Inpatient and outpatient medical services were documented over a 12-month period for 44,287 participants from the Millennium Cohort Study. Equal access to medical services was available to anyone needing medical care during this study period. The number and types of medical visits were compared between CAM and non-CAM users. Chi square test and multivariable logistic regression was applied for the analysis.
Results: Of the 44,287 participants, 39% reported using at least one CAM therapy, and 61% reported not using any CAM therapies. Those individuals reporting CAM use accounted for 45.1% of outpatient care and 44.8% of inpatient care. Individuals reporting one or more health conditions were 15% more likely to report CAM use than non-CAM users and 19% more likely to report CAM use if reporting one or more health symptoms compared to non-CAM users. The unadjusted odds ratio for hospitalizations in CAM users compared to non-CAM users was 1.29 (95% CI: 1.16-1.43). The mean number of days receiving outpatient care for CAM users was 7.0 days and 5.9 days for non-CAM users (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Our study found those who report CAM use were requiring more physician-based medical services than users of conventional medicine. This appears to be primarily the result of an increase in the number of health conditions and symptoms reported by CAM users.

Tiffin PA, Finn GM, McLachlan JC. Evaluating professionalism in medical undergraduates using selected response questions: findings from an item response modelling study. BMC Med Educ 2011,11:43

Background: Professionalism is a difficult construct to define in medical students but aspects of this concept may be important in predicting the risk of postgraduate misconduct. For this reason attempts are being made to evaluate medical students' professionalism. This study investigated the psychometric properties of Selected Response Questions (SRQs) relating to the theme of professional conduct and ethics comparing them with two sets of control items: those testing pure knowledge of anatomy, and; items evaluating the ability to integrate and apply knowledge ("skills"). The performance of students on the SRQs was also compared with two external measures estimating aspects of professionalism in students; peer ratings of professionalism and their Conscientiousness Index, an objective measure of behaviours at medical school.
Methods: Item Response Theory (IRT) was used to analyse both question and student performance for SRQs relating to knowledge of professionalism, pure anatomy and skills. The relative difficulties, discrimination and 'guessabilities' of each theme of question were compared with each other using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Student performance on each topic was compared with the measures of conscientiousness and professionalism using parametric and non-parametric tests as appropriate. A post-hoc analysis of power for the IRT modelling was conducted using a Monte Carlo simulation.
Results: Professionalism items were less difficult compared to the anatomy and skills SRQs, poorer at discriminating between candidates and more erratically answered when compared to anatomy questions. Moreover professionalism item performance was uncorrelated with the standardised Conscientiousness Index scores (rho = 0.009, p = 0.90). In contrast there were modest but significant correlations between standardised Conscientiousness Index scores and performance at anatomy items (rho = 0.20, p = 0.006) though not skills (rho = .11, p = .1). Likewise, students with high peer ratings for professionalism had superior performance on anatomy SRQs but not professionalism themed questions. A trend of borderline significance (p = .07) was observed for performance on skills SRQs and professionalism nomination status.
Conclusions: SRQs related to professionalism are likely to have relatively poor psychometric properties and lack associations with other constructs associated with undergraduate professional behaviour. The findings suggest that such questions should not be included in undergraduate examinations and may raise issues with the introduction of Situational Judgement Tests into Foundation Years selection.

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