Development of the Attitudes Toward Osteopathic Principles and Practice Scale (ATOPPS): preliminary results

David P Russo, Scott T Stoll, Jay H Shores
Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 2003, 103 (9): 429-34
Little empirical work has been done to examine how osteopathic medical students' attitudes toward osteopathic principles and practice (OPP) develop and evolve over the course of their medical education. A major obstacle to conducting this research is the absence of reliable and sensitive instruments to measure students' attitudes toward OPP. The purpose of this project is to develop a sensitive and reliable instrument to measure students' attitudes toward OPP. Face-to-face and telephone interviews were conducted with osteopathic medical students, osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) residents, OMM undergraduate fellows, and three board-certified OMM specialists. These interviews were summarized in a 39-item instrument administered to 127 students at the completion of their core OMM rotation at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. Factor analysis of student responses to the 39 candidate items yielded two interpretable factors. Factor 1 contained 24 items and accounted for 33% of the item response variance, and factor 2 contained four items and accounted for 5.6% of the item response variance. Based on these results, 14 of the original 39 statements were eliminated and the smaller second factor was dropped. Factor 1 contained items reflecting both positive and negative attitudes toward the application of OPP in patient care, the importance of OPP in medical education, and professional distinctiveness. One of the original 39 candidate items was returned to factor 1 because it was judged by the investigators to be consistent with the underlying construct of the scale and helped balance the number of forward-scored and reversed-scored items in the final instrument. Two internal consistency estimates of reliability were computed for the revised 25-item Attitudes Toward Osteopathic Principles and Practice Scale (ATOPPS): the Spearman-Brown unequal-length corrected coefficient alpha and the split-half reliability coefficients. Estimates for the split-half coefficients were .89 for part 1 and .87 for part 2. The Spearman-Brown coefficient alpha was .93, indicating substantial internal consistency. The 25-item ATOPPS seems to reflect a continuum of positive and negative attitudes toward OPP. This preliminary report documents reliability for the 25-item ATOPPS. With continued support for its construct validity, ATOPPS provides investigators with a reliable tool to assess the development of attitudes toward OPP.

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