Development and preliminary evaluation of a practice-based learning and improvement tool for assessing resident competence and guiding curriculum development

J Grad Med Educ. 2011 Mar;3(1):41-8. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00102.1.


Background: Although practice-based learning and improvement (PBLI) is now recognized as a fundamental and necessary skill set, we are still in need of tools that yield specific information about gaps in knowledge and application to help nurture the development of quality improvement (QI) skills in physicians in a proficient and proactive manner. We developed a questionnaire and coding system as an assessment tool to evaluate and provide feedback regarding PBLI self-efficacy, knowledge, and application skills for residency programs and related professional requirements.

Methods: Five nationally recognized QI experts/leaders reviewed and completed our questionnaire. Through an iterative process, a coding system based on identifying key variables needed for ideal responses was developed to score project proposals. The coding system comprised 14 variables related to the QI projects, and an additional 30 variables related to the core knowledge concepts related to PBLI. A total of 86 residents completed the questionnaire, and 2 raters coded their open-ended responses. Interrater reliability was assessed by percentage agreement and Cohen κ for individual variables and Lin concordance correlation for total scores for knowledge and application. Discriminative validity (t test to compare known groups) and coefficient of reproducibility as an indicator of construct validity (item difficulty hierarchy) were also assessed.

Results: Interrater reliability estimates were good (percentage of agreements, above 90%; κ, above 0.4 for most variables; concordances for total scores were R = .88 for knowledge and R = .98 for application).

Conclusion: Despite the residents' limited range of experiences in the group with prior PBLI exposure, our tool met our goal of differentiating between the 2 groups in our preliminary analyses. Correcting for chance agreement identified some variables that are potentially problematic. Although additional evaluation is needed, our tool may prove helpful and provide detailed information about trainees' progress and the curriculum.