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Glossary of Medical Terms
A term that reflects a solid foundation or justification for bringing the intended results. In the case of assessment, validity means the degree to which a measurement instrument truly measures what it is intended to measure. The establishment of validity is the first priority in developing any form of assessment. Without it, all other attributes are of little consequence.
The assessment instrument should accurately represent the skills or characteristics it is designed to measure. Validity may be characterized in these four ways - content, concurrent, predictive or criterion-related validity:
Content validity is the one of greatest concern to teachers as the test must contain a representative sampling of the subject matter the student is expected to have learned. This sampling must be representative and should cross several categories of competence, a range of patient problems and a list of technical skills. Valid clinical examination should assess the components of clinical competence, including the ability to obtain from the patient a detailed and relevant history; carry out a physical examination of the patient; identify the patient's problems from the information obtained and reach a differential diagnosis; identify the appropriate investigations; interpret the results of the investigations; recommend and undertake appropriate management including patient education.
Concurrent validity considers the degree to which a measurement instrument produces the same results as another accepted or proven instrument which measures the same parameters.
Predictive validity examines the degree to which a measure accurately predicts expected outcomes; for instance, a measure of attitudes toward preventive care should correlate significantly with preventive care behaviors.
Criterion-related validity includes concurrent validity as well as predictive validity.
A term referring to what people believe in, or what they consider important about the way they live. Values influence behavior and culture as persons, groups and communities. Values therefore are an important determinant of individual and community health. They are, however, difficult to measure objectively.
A quantity, attribute, phenomenon or event that may assume any one of a set of values:
Independent variable refers to a characteristic being observed or measured that is thought to influence an event or manifestation (the dependent variable) within the defined area of relationships under study. In medical education, it is a factor that could explain or predict the curriculum's outcomes such as the curriculum itself, previous or concurrent training, environmental factors.
Dependent variable is a manifestation or outcome whose variation we seek to explain or account for the influence of independent variables. It can be a program outcome, such as knowledge or skill attainment, real-life performance, and clinical outcomes.
It is prudent to focus on a few dependent variables that are most relevant to the main evaluation questions and similarly, to focus on the independent variables that are most likely to be related to the curriculum's outcomes.