1. Tiffin PA, Finn GM, Mclachlan JC. Evaluating professionalism in medical undergraduates using selected response questions: findings from an item response modelling study. BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:43doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-43
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.
2. Klemenc-Ketis Z, Kersnick J. Using movies to teach professionalism to medical students. BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:60doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-60
Background: Professionalism topics are usually not covered as a separate lesson within formal curriculum, but in subtler and less officially recognized educational activities, which makes them difficult to teach and assess. Interactive methods (e.g. movies) could be efficient teaching methods but are rarely studied. The aims of this study were: 1) to test the relevance and usefulness of movies in teaching professionalism to fourth year medical students and, 2) to assess the impact of this teaching method on students' attitudes towards some professionalism topics.
Method: This was an education study with qualitative data analysis in a group of eleven fourth year medical students from the Medical School of University Maribor who attended an elective four month course on professionalism. There were 8 (66.7%) female students in the group. The mean age of the students was 21.9 +/- 0.9 years. The authors used students' written reports and oral presentations as the basis for qualitative analysis using thematic codes.
Results: Students recognised the following dimensions in the movie: communication, empathy, doctors' personal interests and palliative care. It also made them think about their attitudes towards their own life, death and dying.
Conclusions: The controlled environment of movies successfully enables students to explore their values, beliefs, and attitudes towards features of professionalism without feeling that their personal integrity had been threatened. Interactive teaching methods could become an indispensible aid in teaching professionalism to new generations.
3. White MR, Jacobson IG, Smith B, Wells TS, Gackstetter GD, Boyko EJ, Smith TC for the Millenium Cohort Study Team. Health care utilization among complementary and alternative medicine users in a large military cohort. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:27doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-27
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.