Assessing medical professionalism: A systematic review of instruments and their measurement propertiesReport as inadecuate

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Over the last three decades, various instruments were developed and employed to assess medical professionalism, but their measurement properties have yet to be fully evaluated. This study aimed to systematically evaluate these instruments’ measurement properties and the methodological quality of their related studies within a universally acceptable standardized framework and then provide corresponding recommendations.


A systematic search of the electronic databases PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO was conducted to collect studies published from 1990–2015. After screening titles, abstracts, and full texts for eligibility, the articles included in this study were classified according to their respective instrument’s usage. A two-phase assessment was conducted: 1 methodological quality was assessed by following the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments COSMIN checklist; and 2 the quality of measurement properties was assessed according to Terwee’s criteria. Results were integrated using best-evidence synthesis to look for recommendable instruments.


After screening 2,959 records, 74 instruments from 80 existing studies were included. The overall methodological quality of these studies was unsatisfactory, with reasons including but not limited to unknown missing data, inadequate sample sizes, and vague hypotheses. Content validity, cross-cultural validity, and criterion validity were either unreported or negative ratings in most studies. Based on best-evidence synthesis, three instruments were recommended: Hisar’s instrument for nursing students, Nurse Practitioners’ Roles and Competencies Scale, and Perceived Faculty Competency Inventory.


Although instruments measuring medical professionalism are diverse, only a limited number of studies were methodologically sound. Future studies should give priority to systematically improving the performance of existing instruments and to longitudinal studies.

Author: Honghe Li, Ning Ding , Yuanyuan Zhang , Yang Liu, Deliang Wen



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