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1.  The Effects of Tracking Responses and the Day of Mailing on Physician Survey Response Rate: Three Randomized Trials 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16942.
Background
The response rates to physician postal surveys remain modest. The primary objective of this study was to assess the effect of tracking responses on physician survey response rate (i.e., determining whether each potential participant has responded or not). A secondary objective was to assess the effects of day of mailing (Monday vs. Friday) on physician survey response rate.
Methods
We conducted 3 randomized controlled trials. The first 2 trials had a 2×2 factorial design and tested the effect of day of mailing (Monday vs. Friday) and of tracking vs. no tracking responses. The third trial tested the effect of day of mailing (Monday vs. Friday). We meta-analyzed these 3 trials using a random effects model.
Results
The total number of participants in the 3 trials was 1339. The response rate with tracked mailing was not statistically different from that with non-tracked mailing by the time of the first reminder (RR = 1.01 95% CI 0.84, 1.22; I2 = 0%). There was a trend towards lower response rate with tracked mailing by the time of the second reminder (RR = 0.91; 95% CI 0.78, 1.06; I2 = 0%). The response rate with mailing on Mondays was not statistically different from that with Friday mailing by the time of first reminder (RR = 1.01; 95% CI 0.87, 1.17; I2 = 0%), and by the time of the 2nd reminder (RR = 1.08; 95% CI 0.84, 1.39; I2 = 77%).
Conclusions
Tracking response may negatively affect physicians' response rate. The day of mailing does not appear to affect physicians' response rate.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016942
PMCID: PMC3044144  PMID: 21373197
2.  Validated instruments used to measure attitudes of healthcare students and professionals towards patients with physical disability: a systematic review 
Background
Instruments to detect changes in attitudes towards people with disabilities are important for evaluation of training programs and for research. While we were interested in instruments specific for medical students, we aimed to systematically review the medical literature for validated survey instruments used to measure attitudes of healthcare students and professionals towards patients with physical disability.
Methods
We electronically searched Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Health and Psychosocial Instruments. We included papers reporting on the development and/or validation of survey instruments to measure attitudes of healthcare students and professionals towards patients with physical disability. We excluded papers in which the attitudes were not measured in a provider-patient context. Two reviewers carried out titles and abstracts screening, full texts screening, and data abstraction in a duplicate and independent manner using standardized and pilot tested forms.
Results
We identified seven validated survey instruments used for healthcare students and professionals. These instruments were originally developed for the following target populations: general population (n = 4); dental students (n = 1); nursing students (n = 1); and rehabilitation professionals (n = 1). The types of validity reported for these instruments were content validity (n = 3), criterion-related validity (n = 1), construct validity (n = 2), face validity (n = 1), discriminant validity (n = 1), and responsiveness (n = 1). The most widely validated and used tool (ATDP) was developed in the late 1960s while the most recent instrument was developed in the early 1990s.
Conclusion
Of the seven identified validated instruments, less than half were specifically designed for healthcare students and professionals and none for medical students. There is a need to develop and validate a contemporary instrument specifically for medical students.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-7-55
PMCID: PMC2987969  PMID: 21062438
3.  A curriculum to teach medical students to care for people with disabilities: development and initial implementation 
Background
Lack of knowledge and skills, and negative attitudes towards patients with disabilities, may adversely affect the services available to this group and negatively affect their health outcomes. The objective of this paper is to describe the development and initial implementation of a curriculum for teaching medical students to care for patients with disabilities.
Methods
We followed the six-step approach for developing curricula for medical education: general needs assessment, specific needs assessment, defining goals and objectives, determining the educational strategies, planning the implementation, and developing an evaluation plan.
Results
The curriculum has well defined goals and objectives covering knowledge, attitudes and skills. It employs both traditional and non-traditional teaching strategies. The implementation is planned over the four-year medical school curriculum in collaboration with a number of academic departments and specialized community-based agencies. The curriculum evaluation includes an attitudinal survey which is administered using a controlled design (pre- and post- exposure to the curriculum). The initial implementation of the curriculum has been very successful.
Conclusion
We have developed a longitudinal curriculum to teach medical students to care for people with disabilities. A rigorous evaluation of the impact of the curriculum is needed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-78
PMCID: PMC2809044  PMID: 20042110
4.  A tool for self-assessment of communication skills and professionalism in residents 
Background
Effective communication skills and professionalism are critical for physicians in order to provide optimum care and achieve better health outcomes. The aims of this study were to evaluate residents' self-assessment of their communication skills and professionalism in dealing with patients, and to evaluate the psychometric properties of a self-assessment questionnaire.
Methods
A modified version of the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Patient Assessment survey was completed by 130 residents in 23 surgical and non-surgical training programs affiliated with a single medical school. Descriptive, regression and factor analyses were performed. Internal consistency, inter-item gamma scores, and discriminative validity of the questionnaire were determined.
Results
Factor analysis suggested two groups of items: one group relating to developing interpersonal relationships with patients and one group relating to conveying medical information to patients. Cronbach's alpha (0.86) indicated internal consistency. Males rated themselves higher than females in items related to explaining things to patients. When compared to graduates of U.S. medical schools, graduates of medical schools outside the U.S. rated themselves higher in items related to listening to the patient, yet lower in using understandable language. Surgical residents rated themselves higher than non-surgical residents in explaining options to patients.
Conclusion
This appears to be an internally consistent and reliable tool for residents' self-assessment of communication skills and professionalism. Some demographic differences in self-perceived communication skills were noted.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-1
PMCID: PMC2631014  PMID: 19133146
5.  Experiences promoting healthcare career interest among high-school students from underserved communities. 
Promoting early interest in healthcare careers among youth from underserved areas is one promising strategy for addressing the health professional shortage in such communities, Most career choice studies try to predict outcomes using such traditional measures as grades and test scores, This study examines experiences influencing healthcare career interest among high-school students participating in health professions introductory programs in underserved communities. The opinions of parents and teachers regarding students' motivations are also considered. Seven focus groups (N=51) were conducted in one rural and two largely minority urban communities in New York State designated as health professional shortage areas. Qualitative data analysis involved a theory-driven, immersion and crystallization approach following the experiential learning model. Constructive experiences with the healthcare system, family role-modeling and support, interactive health-related school activities, the media, inspirational and accessible school staff, and strategic community partnerships, among other factors, facilitated student interest in health professions. Findings suggest that underserved and disenfranchised community environments still pose challenges for furthering healthcare career interest among youth.
PMCID: PMC2569708  PMID: 17019924

Results 1-5 (5)