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Incorporating Physician Input Into a Maintenance of Certification Examination: A Content Validity Tool

Poniatowski, Paul A. MS; Dugosh, Jeremy W. PhD; Baranowski, Rebecca A. MEd, MS; Arnold, Gerald PhD, MPH; Lipner, Rebecca S. PhD; Dec, George W. Jr MD; Green, Marianne M. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002727
Research Reports
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Purpose As part of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM’s) continuing effort to update its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program, a content validity tool was used to conduct structured reviews of MOC exam blueprints (i.e., test specification tables) by the physician community. Results from the Cardiovascular Disease MOC blueprint review are presented to illustrate the process ABIM conducted for several internal medicine disciplines.

Method Ratings of topic frequency and importance were collected from cardiologists in 2016 using a three-point scale (low, medium, high). The web-based survey instrument presented 188 blueprint topic descriptions, each combined with five patient-related tasks (e.g., diagnosis, treatment). Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis were employed.

Results Responses from 441 review participants were analyzed. Frequency and importance ratings were aggregated as a composite statistic representing clinical relevance, and exam assembly criteria were modified to select questions, or items, addressing clinically relevant content only. Specifically, ≥ 88% of exam items now address high-importance topics, including ≤ 15% on topics that are also low frequency; and ≤ 12% of exam items now address medium-importance topics, including ≤ 3% on topics that are also low frequency. The updated blueprint has been published for test takers and provides enhanced information on content that would and would not be tested in subsequent examinations. It is linked to more detailed feedback that examinees receive on items answered incorrectly.

Conclusions The blueprint review garnered valuable feedback from the physician community and provided new evidence for the content validity of the Cardiovascular Disease MOC exam.

P.A. Poniatowski is former vice president, Test Development, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

J.W. Dugosh is vice president, Test Development, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

R.A. Baranowski is director, Test Development Operations, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

G. Arnold is former senior statistician, Research and Innovations, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

R.S. Lipner is senior vice president, Assessment and Research, American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

G.W. Dec Jr is chief emeritus, Cardiology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and Roman W. DeSanctis Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

M.M. Green is senior associate dean for Medical Education, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.

Funding/Support: American Board of Internal Medicine.

Other disclosures: All authors are affiliated with the American Board of Internal Medicine and report no other disclosures.

Ethical approval: This study was deemed exempt by the Chesapeake Institutional Review Board.

Correspondence should be addressed to Rebecca S. Lipner, Assessment and Research Division, American Board of Internal Medicine, 510 Walnut St., Suite 1700, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3699; telephone: (215) 446-3541; email: rlipner@abim.org.

Copyright © 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges