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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.  Support for and aspects of use of educational games in family medicine and internal medicine residency programs in the US: a survey 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:26.
Background
The evidence supporting the effectiveness of educational games in graduate medical education is limited. Anecdotal reports suggest their popularity in that setting. The objective of this study was to explore the support for and the different aspects of use of educational games in family medicine and internal medicine residency programs in the United States.
Methods
We conducted a survey of family medicine and internal medicine residency program directors in the United States. The questionnaire asked the program directors whether they supported the use of educational games, their actual use of games, and the type of games being used and the purpose of that use.
Results
Of 434 responding program directors (52% response rate), 92% were in support of the use of games as an educational strategy, and 80% reported already using them in their programs. Jeopardy like games were the most frequently used games (78%). The use of games was equally popular in family medicine and internal medicine residency programs and popularity was inversely associated with more than 75% of residents in the program being International Medical Graduates. The percentage of program directors who reported using educational games as teaching tools, review tools, and evaluation tools were 62%, 47%, and 4% respectively.
Conclusions
Given a widespread use of educational games in the training of medical residents, in spite of limited evidence for efficacy, further evaluation of the best approaches to education games should be explored.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-26
PMCID: PMC2851700  PMID: 20338034
4.  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
5.  Curricula for teaching the content of clinical practice guidelines to family medicine and internal medicine residents in the US: a survey study 
Background
Teaching the content of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) is important to both clinical care and graduate medical education. The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of curricula for teaching the content of CPGs in family medicine and internal medicine residency programs in the United States.
Methods
We surveyed the directors of family medicine and internal medicine residency programs in the United States. The questionnaire included questions about the characteristics of the teaching of CPGs: goals and objectives, educational activities, evaluation, aspects of CPGs that the program teaches, the methods of making texts of CPGs available to residents, and the major barriers to teaching CPGs.
Results
Of 434 programs responding (out of 839, 52%), 14% percent reported having written goals and objectives related to teaching CPGs. The most frequently taught aspect was the content of specific CPGs (76%). The top two educational strategies used were didactic sessions (76%) and journal clubs (64%). Auditing for adherence by residents was the primary evaluation strategy (44%), although 36% of program directors conducted no evaluation. Programs made texts of CPGs available to residents most commonly in the form of paper copies (54%) while the most important barrier was time constraints on faculty (56%).
Conclusion
Residency programs teach different aspects of CPGs to varying degrees, and the majority uses educational strategies not supported by research evidence.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-59
PMCID: PMC2753632  PMID: 19772570
6.  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
7.  Breast cancer screening beliefs by practice location 
BMC Public Health  2003;3:9.
Background
This study examines variations in breast cancer screening among primary care clinicians by geographic location of clinical practice.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey design was used to examine approaches to breast cancer screening among physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants involved in primary care practice. A summary index of beliefs about breast cancer screening was created by summing the total number of responses in agreement with each of four survey items; values for this summary variable ranged between zero and four. Respondents were classified into urban, rural and suburban categories based upon practise location.
Results
Among the 428 respondents, agreement with "correct" responses ranged from 50% to 71% for the individual survey items; overall, half agreed with three or more of the four breast cancer screening items. While no significant differences were noted by practice location, variation in responses were evident. Reported use of written breast cancer guidelines was less in both suburban (OR = 0.51) and urban areas (OR = 0.56) when compared to clinicians in rural areas.
Conclusion
Development of an evidence-based consensus statement regarding breast cancer screening would support a single set of unambiguous guidelines for implementation in all primary care settings, thus decreasing variations in how breast cancer screening is approached across varied clinical settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-3-9
PMCID: PMC151805  PMID: 12646070

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