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BMC Med Educ. 2019 Feb 7;19(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12909-019-1481-6.

Applications of the reflective practice questionnaire in medical education.

Author information

1
Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia.
2
Department of Medical Humanities, Rocky Vista University, 8401 S. Chambers Road, Parker, CO, 80134, USA.
3
Department of Medical Humanities, Rocky Vista University, 8401 S. Chambers Road, Parker, CO, 80134, USA. lvanwinkle@rvu.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

We sought to determine whether the Reflective Practice Questionnaire (RPQ) is a reliable measure of reflective capacity and related characteristics in medical students. We also planned to learn how the RPQ could be used in medical education.

METHODS:

The RPQ is a 40 item self-report questionnaire that includes a multi-faceted approach to measuring reflective capacity. It also includes sub-scales on several other theoretically relevant constructs such as desire for improvement, confidence, stress, and job satisfaction. The reliabilities of reflective capacity and other sub-scales were determined by calculating their Cronbach alpha reliability values. In the present study, the RPQ was answered by 98 graduating fourth-year medical students from an American University, and these RPQ scores were compared with general public and mental health practitioner samples from a prior study using ANOVA and Bonferroni adjusted comparisons.

RESULTS:

Medical students reported a higher reflective capacity than the general public sample, but students were statistically indistinguishable from the mental health practitioner sample. For medical students, reflective capacity was associated with features of confidence, stress, and desire for improvement. Job satisfaction was positively associated with confidence in communication with patients, and negatively associated with stress when interacting with patients. A cluster analysis revealed that around 19% of the medical students exhibited a relatively high level of anxiety interacting with patients, 23% were less engaged, 5% were dissatisfied, and 7% expressed a level of over-confidence in their knowledge and skills that was concerning.

CONCLUSIONS:

The RPQ is a reliable measure of reflective capacity (Chronbach's alpha value = 0.84) and related characteristics (Cronbach's alpha values from 0.75 to 0.83) in medical students. The RPQ can be used as part of pre-post evaluations of medical education initiatives, to complement student self-reflection activities in the curriculum, and to identify students who might benefit from targeted intervention.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety; Communication; Job satisfaction; Medical education; Over-confidence; Reflective capacity; Stress

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