Redefining Quality in Medical Education Research: A Consumer’s View


Background Despite an explosion of medical education research and publications, it is not known how medical educator consumers decide what to read or apply in their practice.

Objective To determine how consumers of medical education research define quality and value.

Methods Journal of Graduate Medical Education editors performed a literature search to identify articles on medical education research quality published between 2000 and 2013, surveyed medical educators for their criteria for judging quality, and led a consensus-building workshop at a 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges meeting to further explore how users defined quality in education research. The workshop used standard consensus-building techniques to reach concept saturation. Attendees then voted for the 3 concepts they valued most in medical education research.

Results The 110 survey responses generated a list of 37 overlapping features in 10 categories considered important aspects of quality. The literature search yielded 27 articles, including quality indexes, systematic and narrative reviews, and commentaries. Thirty-two participants, 12 facilitators, and 1 expert observer attended the workshop. Participants endorsed the following features of education research as being most valuable: (1) provocative, novel, or challenged established thinking; (2) adhered to sound research principles; (3) relevant to practice, role, or needs; (4) feasible, practical application in real-world settings; and (5) connection to a conceptual framework.

Conclusions Medical educators placed high value on rigorous methods and conceptual frameworks, consistent with published quality indexes. They also valued innovative or provocative work, feasibility, and applicability to their setting. End-user opinions of quality may illuminate how educators translate knowledge into practice

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