Does Incorporating a Measure of Clinical Workload Improve Workplace-Based Assessment Scores? Insights... From Ten Pediatrics Residency Programs

Park YS, Hicks PJ, Carraccio C, Margolis M, Schwartz A, for the PMAC Module 2 Study Group
Academic Medicine

This study investigates the impact of incorporating observer-reported workload into workplace-based assessment (WBA) scores on (1) psychometric characteristics of WBA scores and (2) measuring changes in performance over time using workload-unadjusted versus workload-adjusted scores.

Structured clinical observations and multisource feedback instruments were used to collect WBA data from first-year pediatrics residents at 10 residency programs between July 2016 and June 2017. Observers completed items in 8 subcompetencies associated with Pediatrics Milestones. Faculty and resident observers assessed workload using a sliding scale ranging from low to high; all item scores were rescaled to a 1–5 scale to facilitate analysis and interpretation. Workload-adjusted WBA scores were calculated at the item level using three different approaches, and aggregated for analysis at the competency level. Mixed-effects regression models were used to estimate variance components. Longitudinal growth curve analyses examined patterns of developmental score change over time.

On average, participating residents (n = 252) were assessed 5.32 times (standard deviation = 3.79) by different raters during the data collection period. Adjusting for workload yielded better discrimination of learner performance, and higher reliability, reducing measurement error by 28%. Projections in reliability indicated needing up to twice the number of raters when workload-unadjusted scores were used. Longitudinal analysis showed an increase in scores over time, with significant interaction between workload and time; workload also increased significantly over time.

Incorporating a measure of observer-reported workload could improve the measurement properties and the ability to interpret WBA scores.