, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 51-58

The Diagnosis Script Questionnaire: A New Tool to Assess a Specific Dimension of Clinical Competence

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The Diagnosis Script Questionnaire (DSQ) assesses a specific skill of clinical competence: the ability to weigh collected information in light of entertained hypotheses. The questionnaire presents a clinical vignette for which several hypotheses are relevant. The model of the questions is: if you are thinking of hypothesis A and you find sign Z, what is the effect on your hypothesis? Answers are placed on a 7-point Likert scale, with values ranging from “it can only be this hypothesis” to “this hypothesis is definitely rejected.” The scoring process is innovative and reflects the variability of answers among experts.

The questionnaire was administered in gynecology-obstetrics; 103 respondents, divided into three groups, 15 faculty, 12 residents, and 76 clerkship students volunteered. Mean global scores were 45.3 for faculty, 40.5 for residents, and 35.8 for students. The differences between the three groups were statistically significant with Welch ANOVA (p < 0.001). The Bonferroni post-hoc correction however indicated that the only significant difference was between student and faculty groups (p < 0.001). Cronbach's alpha was 0.822 for the total group; for the student and resident groups, 0.794 and 0.812 respectively. The proportion of the total variance explained by the interaction items/participants as estimated by generalizability was 42.1%, 65.4% and 73.4% for the faculty, resident and student groups respectively.

Results agree with the theories of development of clinical competence which states that knowledge structures specifically adapted to diagnostic tasks appear with clinical experience. This new assessment tool appears promising and warrants future development.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.