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J Grad Med Educ. 2018 Dec;10(6):629-638. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-18-00086.1.

A Systematic Review of the Quality and Utility of Observer-Based Instruments for Assessing Medical Professionalism.



Professionalism, which encompasses behavioral, ethical, and related domains, is a core competency of medical practice. While observer-based instruments to assess medical professionalism are available, information on their psychometric properties and utility is limited.


We systematically reviewed the psychometric properties and utility of existing observer-based instruments for assessing professionalism in medical trainees.


After selecting eligible studies, we employed the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) criteria to score study methodological quality. We identified eligible instruments and performed quality assessment of psychometric properties for each selected instrument. We scored the utility of each instrument based on the ability to distinguish performance levels over time, availability of objective scoring criteria, validity evidence in medical students and residents, and instrument length.


Ten instruments from 16 studies met criteria for consideration, with studies having acceptable methodological quality. Psychometric properties were variably assessed. Among 10 instruments, the Education Outcomes Service (EOS) group questionnaire and Professionalism Mini-Evaluation Exercise (P-MEX) possessed the best psychometric properties, with the P-MEX scoring higher on utility than the EOS group questionnaire.


We identified 2 instruments with best psychometric properties, with 1 also showing acceptable utility for assessing professionalism in trainees. The P-MEX may be an option for program directors to adopt as an observer-based instrument for formative assessment of medical professionalism. Further studies of the 2 instruments to aggregate additional validity evidence is recommended, particularly in the domain of content validity before they are used in specific cultural settings and in summative assessments.

[Available on 2019-12-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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