Introduction: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relative and absolute importance of individual standards used by accreditation agencies throughout the world.
Method: We developed a 150-item survey that consisted of all World Federation for Medical Education standards, supplemented with additional standards used around the world. International accreditation experts rated the standards based on the importance of each standard for ensuring the quality of undergraduate medical education. A 3-point scale was employed: 1 = not important, 2 = important but not essential, 3 = essential.
Results: Thirteen of 22 chosen experts anonymously completed the survey (59%). The mean values, over raters, across individual standards ranged from 2.32 to 2.87, indicating that most of the 150 standards are at least important, and often essential, for ensuring program quality. Fourteen standards received the highest rating of 3 ("Essential") from all experts, and four standards received mean ratings ≤2.00. Variability in the ratings across the experts for individual standards ranged from 0.00 (unanimous agreement) to 0.76 (moderate disagreement).
Conclusions: While there is some global variation in experts' opinions of accreditation standards, certain standards are considered essential. Our summary data are useful for determining best practices for medical education accreditation systems.