Can professionalism be measured? The development of a scale for use in the medical environment

Acad Med. 1998 Oct;73(10):1119-21. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199810000-00025.


Purpose: To assess a scale that measures professional attitudes and behaviors associated with the medical education and the residency training environment.

Method: In 1995-96, the authors surveyed medical students and residents from five institutions in the northeast region of the United States.

Results: Of 757 distributed questionnaires, 565 were returned (75% response rate). Of those, 529 (94%) were used in the analysis. The mean score for the retained 12 items was 92.9 (SD, 11.9), with higher scores indicating more positive perceptions. The internal reliability of the scale was moderately high (alpha = .71). A factor analysis identified three subscales: excellence, honor/integrity, and altruism/respect, with eigenvalues (alpha coefficients) of 3.18 (.72), 1.70 (.60), and 1.20 (.59), respectively.

Conclusions: The results are interpreted as an encouraging first step toward the development of a reliable scale that measures professionalism within the environment of medical education and residency training.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Moral Development
  • New England
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires