Context: We are unaware of studies examining the stability of teaching assessment scores across different medical specialties. A recent study showed that clinical teaching assessments of general internists reduced to interpersonal, clinical teaching and efficiency domains. We sought to determine the factor stability of this 3-dimensional model among cardiologists and to compare domain-specific scores between general internists and cardiologists.
Methods: A total of 2000 general internal medicine and cardiology hospital teaching assessments carried out from January 2000 to March 2004 were analysed using principal factor analysis. Internal consistency and inter-rater reliability were calculated. Mean item scores were compared between general internists and cardiologists.
Results: The interpersonal and clinical teaching domains previously demonstrated among general internists collapsed into 1 domain among cardiologists, whereas the efficiency domain remained stable. Internal consistency of domains (Cronbach's alpha range 0.89-0.93) and inter-rater reliability of items (range 0.65-0.87) were good to excellent for both specialties. General internists scored significantly higher (P<0.05) than cardiologists on most items except for 4 items that more accurately assessed the cardiology teaching environment.
Conclusions: We observed factor instability of clinical teaching assessment scores from the same instrument administered to general internists and cardiologists. This finding was attributed to salient differences between these specialties' educational environments and highlights the importance of validating assessments for the specific contexts in which they are to be used. Future research should determine whether interpersonal domain scores identify superior teachers and study the reasons why interpersonal and clinical teaching domains are unstable across different educational settings.