Specialty-specific multi-source feedback: assuring validity, informing training


Dr Julian Archer, C313 Portland Square, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Plymouth Campus, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK. Tel: 00 44 1752 586750; Fax: 00 44 1752 586788; E-mail: julian.archer@pms.ac.uk


Context  The white paper ‘Trust, Assurance and Safety: the Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century’ proposes a single, generic multi-source feedback (MSF) instrument in the UK. Multi-source feedback was proposed as part of the assessment programme for Year 1 specialty training in histopathology.

Methods  An existing instrument was modified following blueprinting against the histopathology curriculum to establish content validity. Trainees were also assessed using an objective structured practical examination (OSPE). Factor analysis and correlation between trainees’ OSPE performance and the MSF were used to explore validity. All 92 trainees participated and the assessor response rate was 93%. Reliability was acceptable with eight assessors (95% confidence interval 0.38). Factor analysis revealed two factors: ‘generic’ and ‘histopathology’. Pearson correlation of MSF scores with OSPE performances was 0.48 (P = 0.001) and the histopathology factor correlated more highly (histopathology r = 0.54, generic r = 0.42; t = − 2.76, d.f. = 89, P < 0.01). Trainees scored least highly in relation to ability to use histopathology to solve clinical problems (mean = 4.39) and provision of good reports (mean = 4.39). Three of six doctors whose means were < 4.0 received free text comments about report writing. There were 83 forms with aggregate scores of < 4. Of these, 19.2% included comments about report writing.

Results  Specialty-specific MSF is feasible and achieves satisfactory reliability. The higher correlation of the ‘histopathology’ factor with the OSPE supports validity. This paper highlights the importance of validating an MSF instrument within the specialty-specific context as, in addition to assuring content validity, the PATH–SPRAT (Histopathology–Sheffield Peer Review Assessment Tool) also demonstrates the potential to inform training as part of a quality improvement model.