Tools to Assess Behavioral and Social Science Competencies in Medical Education: A Systematic Review


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Abstract

PurposeBehavioral and social science (BSS) competencies are needed to provide quality health care, but psychometrically validated measures to assess these competencies are difficult to find. Moreover, they have not been mapped to existing frameworks, like those from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This systematic review aimed to identify and evaluate the quality of assessment tools used to measure BSS competencies.MethodThe authors searched the literature published between January 2002 and March 2014 for articles reporting psychometric or other validity/reliability testing, using OVID, CINAHL, PubMed, ERIC, Research and Development Resource Base, SOCIOFILE, and PsycINFO. They reviewed 5,104 potentially relevant titles and abstracts. To guide their review, they mapped BSS competencies to existing LCME and ACGME frameworks. The final included articles fell into three categories: instrument development, which were of the highest quality; educational research, which were of the second highest quality; and curriculum evaluation, which were of lower quality.ResultsOf the 114 included articles, 33 (29%) yielded strong evidence supporting tools to assess communication skills, cultural competence, empathy/compassion, behavioral health counseling, professionalism, and teamwork. Sixty-two (54%) articles yielded moderate evidence and 19 (17%) weak evidence. Articles mapped to all LCME standards and ACGME core competencies; the most common was communication skills.ConclusionsThese findings serve as a valuable resource for medical educators and researchers. More rigorous measurement validation and testing and more robust study designs are needed to understand how educational strategies contribute to BSS competency development.

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