Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 739–752

Using the personal background preparation survey to identify health science professions students at risk for adverse academic events


    • The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston
  • Ronald Johnson
    • Office of Cultural and Institutional DiversityThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • John C. McKee
    • Office of Outcomes AssessmentThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Mira Kim
    • Office of Cultural and Institutional DiversityThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

DOI: 10.1007/s10459-009-9156-4

Cite this article as:
Johnson, C.W., Johnson, R., McKee, J.C. et al. Adv in Health Sci Educ (2009) 14: 739. doi:10.1007/s10459-009-9156-4


In the first predictive validity study of a diagnostic and prescriptive instrument for averting adverse academic status events (AASE) among multiple populations of diverse health science professions students, entering matriculates’ personal background and preparation survey (PBPS) scores consistently significantly predicted 1st- or 2nd-year AASE. During 1st-year orientations, 441 entering matriculates in four southwestern schools from dental, medical, and nursing disciplines completed the 2004 PBPS. The following year during 1st-year orientations, 526 entering matriculates in five schools from dental, medical, nursing, and biomedical science disciplines completed the 2005 PBPS. The PBPS identifies and quantifies a student’s noncognitive and cognitive academic performance risks. One standard deviation increments in PBPS risks consistently multiplied 1st- or 2nd-year AASE odds by approximately 140% (p < .05), controlling for underrepresented minority student (URMS) status and school affiliation. Odds of 2nd-year AASE for URMS one standard deviation above the 2004 PBPS mean reached 494% of odds for nonURMS at the mean. PBPS total risks, school affiliation, and URMS status together provided 70–76% correct predictions of 1st- or 2nd-year AASE. PBPS predictive validity did not differ significantly among dental, medical, nursing, or biomedical science schools, or URMS/nonURMS. PBPS sensitivity and specificity approached those for FDA-approved screening mammograms for breast cancer and PSA tests for prostate cancer. PBPS positive predictive values of 42–60% exceeded those for both. The diagnostic and prescriptive PBPS can facilitate proactive targeting of corrective interventions aimed at reducing AASE and attrition among health science education students at risk for academic difficulties.


Health sciences professions studentsUnderrepresented minority studentsStudent retentionStudent attritionHealth sciences graduate educationInstrumentationMeasurementStudent advisingStudent persistence

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009