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

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Abstract

PROBLEM

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.

METHODS

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%).

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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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