Using Standardized Videos to Validate a Measure of Handoff Quality: The Handoff Mini-Clinical Examination Exercise

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The most recent iteration of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education duty-hour regulations includes language mandating handoff education for trainees and assessments of handoff quality by residency training programs. However, there is a lack of validated tools for the assessment of handoff quality and for use in trainee education.


Faculty at 2 sites (University of Chicago and Yale University) were recruited to participate in a workshop on handoff education. Video-based scenarios were developed to represent varying levels of performance in the domains of communication, professionalism, and setting. Videos were shown in a random order, and faculty were instructed to use the Handoff Mini-Clinical Examination Exercise (CEX), a paper-based instrument with qualitative anchors defining each level of performance, to rate the handoffs.


Forty-seven faculty members (14 at site 1; 33 at site 2) participated in the validation workshops, providing a total of 172 observations (of a possible 191 [96%]). Reliability testing revealed a Cronbach α of 0.81 and Kendall coefficient of concordance of 0.59 (>0.6 = high reliability). Faculty were able to reliably distinguish the different levels of performance in each domain in a statistically significant fashion (ie, unsatisfactory professionalism mean 2.42 vs satisfactory professionalism 4.81 vs superior professionalism 6.01, P < 0.001 trend test). Two-way analysis of variance revealed no evidence of rater bias.


Using standardized video-based scenarios highlighting differing levels of performance, we were able to demonstrate evidence that the Handoff Mini-CEX can draw reliable and valid conclusions regarding handoff performance. Future work to validate the tool in clinical settings is warranted. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2014;9:441–446. © 2014 Society of Hospital Medicine

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