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BMJ. Nov 29, 1997; 315(7120): 1426–1428.
PMCID: PMC2127907
The validity of general practitioners' self assessment of knowledge: cross sectional study.
J. M. Tracey, B. Arroll, D. E. Richmond, and P. M. Barham
Goodfellow Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
J. M. Tracey: j.tracey/at/
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether general practitioners can make accurate self assessments of their knowledge in specific areas. DESIGN: 67 general practitioners completed a self assessment of their level of knowledge over a variety of topics using a nine point semantic differential scale. An objective assessment of their knowledge was then made by administering true-false tests on two of the topics: thyroid disorders and non-insulin dependent diabetes. The study was repeated with another group of 60 general practitioners, using sexually transmitted diseases as the topic. SETTING: General practices in New Zealand. SUBJECTS: Random sample of 67 general practitioners in Auckland. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Test scores for self assessment and for actual knowledge. RESULTS: Correlations between self assessments and test scores were poor for all three topics studied (r = 0.19 for thyroid disorders, 0.21 for non-insulin dependent diabetes, 0.19 for sexually transmitted diseases). CONCLUSIONS: As general practitioners cannot accurately assess their own level of knowledge on a given topic, professional development programmes that rely on the doctors' self perceptions to assess their needs are likely to be seriously flawed.
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