Assessment and evaluation of prescribing competences: a systematic review and recommendations

Mclachlan, John Charles orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5493-2645, Auta, Asa and Ajiboye, Aderonke (2024) Assessment and evaluation of prescribing competences: a systematic review and recommendations. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology . ISSN 0306-5251

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Aims: Since assessment of prescribing competence is a key promoter of student learning and achievement, we aim to summarise existing national-level approaches, provide a systematic review of current literature, indicate the frequency of various methodologies, and make recommendations to promote and extend existing practice.
Methods: Regulatory body websites were accessed for details of national examinations. PubMed®, Embase®, the Allied and Complementary Medicine and CINAHL databases were systematically searched in August 2023 for studies in English from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand reporting assessment of prescribing competencies among students/practitioners. Additional articles were identified through citation tracking.
Results: National approaches are described for a number of jurisdictions. A total of 20,514 articles were retrieved, of which 54 met the inclusion criteria. Most articles came from the United Kingdom, with medical students and qualified doctors most frequently featured. Multiple choice formats were most common, with short answer questions, calculations, and scenario-based skills tests also featured. Direct observations of skills through OSCEs and similar methods was less commonly described. Test reliability generally employed Classical Test Theory. Costs of developing and delivering assessments, differential attainment by demographics, and predictive validity were not indicated.
Conclusions: We recommend measurement of the predictive validity of prescribing competence assessments, the routine inclusion of performance by demographic characteristics, extension of competence assessments to professions other than medicine, and structured reporting of methods and findings, including costs and cost-effectiveness. Situational Judgement Tests would be a valuable addition to assessment practices.

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