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Acad Med. 2006 Oct;81(10 Suppl):S128-37.

Literature and medicine: a problem of assessment.

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Wilson Centre for Research in Education, University Health Network, 200 Elizabeth Street, Eaton South 1-565, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C4.



"Literature and medicine" is increasingly common in medical schools but not within medical education research. This absence may relate to it not being problematizable in the quantitative way in which this psychometrically-oriented community tends to conceptualize research questions.


Databases were searched using relevant keywords. Articles were evaluated using methodologies appropriate to their fields. The resulting information was structured around a framework of construct-appropriate assessment methods.


Literature and medicine is intended to develop skills as potential proxy outcomes for important constructs. Proposed tools to assess these skills are difficult to evaluate using the field's traditional quantitative framework. Methodologies derived from the qualitative tradition offer alternative assessment methods.


The medical education research community should take on the challenges presented by literature and medicine. Otherwise, we run the risk that the current evaluation system will prevent important constructs from being effectively taught and assessed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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