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1.  ‘Personalised evidence’ for personalised healthcare: integration of a clinical librarian into mental health services – a feasibility study 
The Psychiatric Bulletin  2014;38(1):29-35.
Aims and method To evaluate the feasibility of integrating a clinical librarian (CL) within four mental health teams. A CL was attached to three clinical teams and the Trustwide Psychology Research and Clinical Governance Structure for 12 months. Requests for evidence syntheses were recorded. The perceived impact of individual evidence summaries on staff activities was evaluated using a brief online questionnaire.
Results Overall, 82 requests for evidence summaries were received: 50% related to evidence for individual patient care, 23% to generic clinical issues and 27% were on management/corporate topics. In the questionnaires 105 participants indicated that the most common impact on their practice was advice given to colleagues (51 respondents), closely followed by the evidence summaries stimulating new ideas for patient care or treatment (50 respondents).
Clinical implications The integration of a CL into clinical and corporate teams is feasible and perceived as having an impact on staff activities. A CL may be able to collate ‘personalised evidence’ which may enhance individualised healthcare. In some cases the usual concept of a hierarchy of evidence may not easily apply, with case reports providing guidance which may be more applicable than population-based studies.
PMCID: PMC4067854  PMID: 25237487
2.  Comparison of the sensitivity of the UKCAT and A Levels to sociodemographic characteristics: a national study 
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was introduced to facilitate widening participation in medical and dental education in the UK by providing universities with a continuous variable to aid selection; one that might be less sensitive to the sociodemographic background of candidates compared to traditional measures of educational attainment. Initial research suggested that males, candidates from more advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and those who attended independent or grammar schools performed better on the test. The introduction of the A* grade at A level permits more detailed analysis of the relationship between UKCAT scores, secondary educational attainment and sociodemographic variables. Thus, our aim was to further assess whether the UKCAT is likely to add incremental value over A level (predicted or actual) attainment in the selection process.
Data relating to UKCAT and A level performance from 8,180 candidates applying to medicine in 2009 who had complete information relating to six key sociodemographic variables were analysed. A series of regression analyses were conducted in order to evaluate the ability of sociodemographic status to predict performance on two outcome measures: A level ‘best of three’ tariff score; and the UKCAT scores.
In this sample A level attainment was independently and positively predicted by four sociodemographic variables (independent/grammar schooling, White ethnicity, age and professional social class background). These variables also independently and positively predicted UKCAT scores. There was a suggestion that UKCAT scores were less sensitive to educational background compared to A level attainment. In contrast to A level attainment, UKCAT score was independently and positively predicted by having English as a first language and male sex.
Our findings are consistent with a previous report; most of the sociodemographic factors that predict A level attainment also predict UKCAT performance. However, compared to A levels, males and those speaking English as a first language perform better on UKCAT. Our findings suggest that UKCAT scores may be more influenced by sex and less sensitive to school type compared to A levels. These factors must be considered by institutions utilising the UKCAT as a component of the medical and dental school selection process.
PMCID: PMC3893425  PMID: 24400861
Medical student selection; Educational attainment; Aptitude tests; UKCAT; Socio-economic factors
3.  Observations of a Small Sample of Adolescents Experiencing an At-Risk Mental State (ARMS) for Psychosis 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2011;38(2):215-218.
Some commentaries express concern that the At-Risk Mental State (ARMS) designation can be stigmatizing and induce a lasting sense of personal fragility. However, no studies have actually explored the personal perspectives of those so categorized. The purpose of this study was to explore how adolescents with an ARMS label understand and experience their condition medically and personally. Six participants receiving an ARMS diagnosis were interviewed and the data analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged: “It is better to say it,” “How others would take me,” and “Just to have somebody to talk to.” The participants’ experiences of being labeled were generally positive with limited instances of stigmatization by family and friends. Like most psychiatric diagnoses, the ARMS label has the potential to generate stigma. In practice, however, this sample of young people appeared to respect being told about the condition and to value the opportunity of talking about their experiences with mental health professionals and significant others.
PMCID: PMC3283156  PMID: 22021662
psychosis; risk; prodrome; youth
4.  Modelling the relationship between obesity and mental health in children and adolescents: findings from the Health Survey for England 2007 
A number of studies have reported significant associations between obesity and poor psychological wellbeing in children but findings have been inconsistent. Methods: This study utilised data from 3,898 children aged 5-16 years obtained from the Health Survey for England 2007. Information was available on Body Mass Index (BMI), parental ratings of child emotional and behavioural health (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), self-reported physical activity levels and sociodemographic variables. A multilevel modelling approach was used to allow for the clustering of children within households. Results: Curvilinear relationships between both internalising (emotional) and externalising (behavioural) symptoms and adjusted BMI were observed. After adjusting for potential confounders the relationships between obesity and psychological adjustment (reported externalising and internalising symptoms) remained statistically significant. Being overweight, rather than obese, had no impact on overall reported mental health. 17% of children with obesity were above the suggested screening threshold for emotional problems, compared to 9% of non-obese children. Allowing for clustering and potential confounding variables children classified as obese had an odds ratio (OR) of 2.13 (95% CI 1.39 to 3.26) for being above the screening threshold for an emotional disorder compared to non-obese young people. No cross-level interactions between household income and the relationships between obesity and internalising or externalising symptoms were observed. Conclusions: In this large, representative, UK-based community sample a curvilinear association with emotional wellbeing was observed for adjusted BMI suggesting the possibility of a threshold effect. Further research could focus on exploring causal relationships and developing targeted interventions.
PMCID: PMC3213165  PMID: 21982578
Obesity; Children; Adolescents; Mental Health; Statistical Modelling
5.  Evaluating professionalism in medical undergraduates using selected response questions: findings from an item response modelling study 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:43.
Professionalism is a difficult construct to define in medical students but aspects of this concept may be important in predicting the risk of postgraduate misconduct. For this reason attempts are being made to evaluate medical students' professionalism. This study investigated the psychometric properties of Selected Response Questions (SRQs) relating to the theme of professional conduct and ethics comparing them with two sets of control items: those testing pure knowledge of anatomy, and; items evaluating the ability to integrate and apply knowledge ("skills"). The performance of students on the SRQs was also compared with two external measures estimating aspects of professionalism in students; peer ratings of professionalism and their Conscientiousness Index, an objective measure of behaviours at medical school.
Item Response Theory (IRT) was used to analyse both question and student performance for SRQs relating to knowledge of professionalism, pure anatomy and skills. The relative difficulties, discrimination and 'guessabilities' of each theme of question were compared with each other using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Student performance on each topic was compared with the measures of conscientiousness and professionalism using parametric and non-parametric tests as appropriate. A post-hoc analysis of power for the IRT modelling was conducted using a Monte Carlo simulation.
Professionalism items were less difficult compared to the anatomy and skills SRQs, poorer at discriminating between candidates and more erratically answered when compared to anatomy questions. Moreover professionalism item performance was uncorrelated with the standardised Conscientiousness Index scores (rho = 0.009, p = 0.90). In contrast there were modest but significant correlations between standardised Conscientiousness Index scores and performance at anatomy items (rho = 0.20, p = 0.006) though not skills (rho = .11, p = .1). Likewise, students with high peer ratings for professionalism had superior performance on anatomy SRQs but not professionalism themed questions. A trend of borderline significance (p = .07) was observed for performance on skills SRQs and professionalism nomination status.
SRQs related to professionalism are likely to have relatively poor psychometric properties and lack associations with other constructs associated with undergraduate professional behaviour. The findings suggest that such questions should not be included in undergraduate examinations and may raise issues with the introduction of Situational Judgement Tests into Foundation Years selection.
PMCID: PMC3146946  PMID: 21714870
6.  Widening access to UK medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: modelling the impact of the UKCAT in the 2009 cohort 
Objective To determine whether the use of the UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) in the medical schools admissions process reduces the relative disadvantage encountered by certain sociodemographic groups.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Applicants to 22 UK medical schools in 2009 that were members of the consortium of institutions utilising the UKCAT as a component of their admissions process.
Participants 8459 applicants (24 844 applications) to UKCAT consortium member medical schools where data were available on advanced qualifications and socioeconomic background.
Main outcome measures The probability of an application resulting in an offer of a place on a medicine course according to seven educational and sociodemographic variables depending on how the UKCAT was used by the medical school (in borderline cases, as a factor in admissions, or as a threshold).
Results On univariate analysis all educational and sociodemographic variables were significantly associated with the relative odds of an application being successful. The multilevel multiple logistic regression models, however, varied between medical schools according to the way that the UKCAT was used. For example, a candidate from a non-professional background was much less likely to receive a conditional offer of a place compared with an applicant from a higher social class when applying to an institution using the test only in borderline cases (odds ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.45 to 0.60). No such effect was observed for such candidates applying to medical schools using the threshold approach (1.27, 0.84 to 1.91). These differences were generally reflected in the interactions observed when the analysis was repeated, pooling the data. Notably, candidates from several under-represented groups applying to medical schools that used a threshold approach to the UKCAT were less disadvantaged than those applying to the other institutions in the consortium. These effects were partially reflected in significant differences in the absolute proportion of such candidates finally taking up places in the different types of medical schools; stronger use of the test score (as a factor or threshold) was associated with a significantly increased odds of entrants being male (1.74, 1.25 to 2.41) and from a low socioeconomic background (3.57, 1.03 to 12.39). There was a non-significant trend towards entrants being from a state (non-grammar) school (1.60, 0.97 to 2.62) where a stronger use of the test was employed. Use of the test only in borderline cases was associated with increased odds of entrants having relatively low academic attainment (5.19, 2.02 to 13.33) and English as a second language (2.15, 1.03 to 4.48).
Conclusions The use of the UKCAT may lead to more equitable provision of offers to those applying to medical school from under-represented sociodemographic groups. This may translate into higher numbers of some, but not all, relatively disadvantaged students entering the UK medical profession.
PMCID: PMC3328544  PMID: 22511300
7.  Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) performance of doctors who passed Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) tests compared with UK medical graduates: national data linkage study 
Objective To determine whether use of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) examination system used to grant registration for international medical graduates results in equivalent postgraduate medical performance, as evaluated at Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP), between UK based doctors who qualified overseas and those who obtained their primary medical qualification from UK universities.
Design Observational study linking ARCP outcome data from the UK deaneries with PLAB test performance and demographic data held by the UK General Medical Council (GMC).
Setting Doctors in postgraduate training for a medical specialty or general practice in the UK and doctors obtaining GMC registration via the PLAB system.
Participants 53 436 UK based trainee doctors with at least one competency related ARCP outcome reported during the study period, of whom 42 017 were UK medical graduates and 11 419 were international medical graduates who were registered following a pass from the PLAB route.
Main outcome measure Probability of obtaining a poorer versus a more satisfactory category of outcome at ARCP following successful registration as a doctor in the UK.
Results International medical graduates were more likely to obtain a less satisfactory outcome at ARCP compared with UK graduates. This finding persisted even after adjustment for the potential influence of sex, age, years of UK based practice, and ethnicity and exclusion of outcomes associated with postgraduate examination failure (odds ratio 1.63, 95% confidence interval 1.30 to 2.06). However, international medical graduates who scored in the highest twelfth at part 1 of the PLAB (at least 32 points above the pass mark) had ARCP outcomes that did not differ significantly from those of UK graduates.
Conclusions These findings suggest that the PLAB test used for registration of international medical graduates is not generally equivalent to the requirements for UK graduates. The differences in postgraduate performance, as captured at ARCP, following the two routes to registration might be levelled out by raising the standards of English language competency required as well as the pass marks for the two parts of the PLAB test. An alternative might be to introduce a different testing system.
PMCID: PMC3990835  PMID: 24742539

Results 1-7 (7)