Setting a Minimum Passing Standard for the Uncertainty Communication Checklist Through Patient and Physician Engagement

J Grad Med Educ. 2020 Feb;12(1):58-65. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-19-00483.1.


Background: Historically, medically trained experts have served as judges to establish a minimum passing standard (MPS) for mastery learning. As mastery learning expands from procedure-based skills to patient-centered domains, such as communication, there is an opportunity to incorporate patients as judges in setting the MPS.

Objective: We described our process of incorporating patients as judges to set the MPS and compared the MPS set by patients and emergency medicine residency program directors (PDs).

Methods: Patient and physician panels were convened to determine an MPS for a 21-item Uncertainty Communication Checklist. The MPS for both panels were independently calculated using the Mastery Angoff method. Mean scores on individual checklist items with corresponding 95% confidence intervals were also calculated for both panels and differences analyzed using a t test.

Results: Of 240 eligible patients and 42 eligible PDs, 25 patients and 13 PDs (26% and 65% cooperation rates, respectively) completed MPS-setting procedures. The patient-generated MPS was 84.0% (range 45.2-96.2, SD 10.2) and the physician-generated MPS was 88.2% (range 79.7-98.1, SD 5.5). The overall MPS, calculated as an average of these 2 results, was 86.1% (range 45.2-98.1, SD 9.0), or 19 of 21 checklist items.

Conclusions: Patients are able to serve as judges to establish an MPS using the Mastery Angoff method for a task performed by resident physicians. The patient-established MPS was nearly identical to that generated by a panel of residency PDs, indicating similar expectations of proficiency for residents to achieve skill "mastery."

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Checklist
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients* / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians* / statistics & numerical data