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Training Mentors of Clinical and Translational Research Scholars: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Pfund, Christine PhD; House, Stephanie C. MA; Asquith, Pamela PhD; Fleming, Michael F. MD; Buhr, Kevin A. PhD; Burnham, Ellen L. MD, MSc; Eichenberger Gilmore, Julie M. PhD; Huskins, W. Charles MD, MSc; McGee, Richard PhD; Schurr, Kathryn MS; Shapiro, Eugene D. MD; Spencer, Kimberly C.; Sorkness, Christine A. PharmD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000218
Research Reports

Purpose: To determine whether a structured mentoring curriculum improves research mentoring skills.

Method: The authors conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) at 16 academic health centers (June 2010 to July 2011). Faculty mentors of trainees who were conducting clinical/translational research ≥50% of the time were eligible. The intervention was an eight-hour, case-based curriculum focused on six mentoring competencies. The primary outcome was the change in mentors’ self-reported pretest to posttest composite scores on the Mentoring Competency Assessment (MCA). Secondary outcomes included changes in the following: mentors’ awareness as measured by their self-reported retrospective change in MCA scores, mentees’ ratings of their mentors’ competency as measured by MCA scores, and mentoring behaviors as reported by mentors and their mentees.

Results: A total of 283 mentor–mentee pairs were enrolled: 144 mentors were randomized to the intervention; 139 to the control condition. Self-reported pre-/posttest change in MCA composite scores was higher for mentors in the intervention group compared with controls (P < .001). Retrospective changes in MCA composite scores between the two groups were even greater, and extended to all six subscale scores (P < .001). More intervention-group mentors reported changes in their mentoring practices than control mentors (P < .001). Mentees working with intervention-group mentors reported larger changes in retrospective MCA pre-/posttest scores (P = .003) and more changes in their mentors’ behavior (P = .002) than those paired with control mentors.

Conclusions: This RCT demonstrates that a competency-based research mentor training program can improve mentors’ skills.

Dr. Pfund is researcher, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Ms. House is research project director, Research Education and Career Development, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Asquith is administrative director, Research Education and Career Development, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Fleming is interim chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and professor, Family and Community Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Buhr is associate scientist, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Burnham is associate professor, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado.

Dr. Gilmore is associate administrator, Education, Preventive and Community Dentistry, Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Huskins is professor, Department of Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. McGee is professor of medical education and faculty development and associate dean for faculty recruitment and professional development, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Ms. Schurr is assistant researcher, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Shapiro is professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Epidemiology, and Investigative Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Ms. Spencer is research specialist, Research Education and Career Development, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Sorkness is professor, School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine, and senior associate executive director, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Editor’s Note: A commentary by J.F. Steiner appears on pages 702–704.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Please see Supplemental Digital List 1A for acknowledgment of official collaborators/participating investigators, official collaborators/mentor training facilitators, and mentoring trial research assistants (http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A196).

Funding/Support: This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), grant no. 1UL1RR025011, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant no. 9U54TR000021, National Institutes of Health, through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program (University of Wisconsin–Madison). Please see Supplemental Digital List 1B for funding support for all participating institutions (http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A196).

Other disclosures: W.H. Freeman and Company has published a printed version of Mentor Training for Clinical and Translational Researchers. The curriculum is also freely available for download via a mentoring Web site developed by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (https://mentoringresources.ictr.wisc.edu). The manuscript was approved by the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program Consortium Publications Committee (https://www.ctsacentral.org/content/ctsa-consortium-publications) prior to submission for publication.

Ethical approval: This study was reviewed by site institutional review boards and determined to be either exempt or approved via expedited review as minimal risk. ClinicalTrials.gov Registry, registration identifier: NCT01184131, http://ClinicalTrials.gov.

Disclaimer: The funding source did not play any role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Previous presentations: Presented in part at the Association for Clinical Research Training/American Federation for Medical Research/Society for Clinical and Translational Science Joint Meeting; April 20–22, 2011, and April 18-20, 2012; Washington, DC. Presented in part at the 9th Greater Chicago Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium Conference; May 24, 2012; Chicago, Illinois. Presented in part at the University of Cincinnati Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training Grand Rounds; January 11, 2013.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A192, http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A193, http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A194, http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A195, and http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A196.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Pfund, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1025 W. Johnson, Madison, WI 53706; telephone: (608) 263-3451; e-mail: cepfund@wisc.edu.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges