Brief report: Brief instrument to assess geriatrics knowledge of surgical and medical subspecialty house officers

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Initiatives are underway to increase geriatrics training in nonprimary care disciplines. However, no validated instrument exists to measure geriatrics knowledge of house officers in surgical specialties and medical subspecialities.


A 23-item multiple-choice test emphasizing inpatient care and common geriatric syndromes was developed through expert panels and pilot testing, and administered to 305 residents and fellows at 4 institutions in surgical disciplines (25% of respondents), emergency medicine (29%), medicine subspecialties (19%), internal medicine (12%), and other disciplines (15%).


Three items decreased internal reliability. The remaining 20 items covered 17 topic areas. Residents averaged 62% correct on the test. Internal consistency was appropriate (Cronbach's α coefficient=0.60). Validity was supported by the use of expert panels to develop content, and by overall differences in scores by level of training (P<.0001) and graded improvement in test performance, with 58%, 63%, 62%, and 69% correct responses among HO1, HO2, HO3, and HO4s, respectively.


This reliable, valid measure of clinical geriatrics knowledge can be used by a wide variety of surgical and medical graduate medical education programs to guide curriculum reform or evaluate program performance to meet certification requirements. The instrument is now available on the web.

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