Construct Validation of the American Board of Anesthesiology's APPLIED Examination for Initial Certification

Ting Wang, Huaping Sun, Yan Zhou, Dandan Chen, Ann E Harman, Robert S Isaak, Cathleen Peterson-Layne, Alex Macario, Brenda G Fahy, David O Warner
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2021 January 18

BACKGROUND: The American Board of Anesthesiology administers the APPLIED Examination as a part of initial certification, which as of 2018 includes 2 components-the Standardized Oral Examination (SOE) and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The goal of this study is to investigate the measurement construct(s) of the APPLIED Examination to assess whether the SOE and the OSCE measure distinct constructs (ie, factors).

METHODS: Exploratory item factor analysis of candidates' performance ratings was used to determine the number of constructs, and confirmatory item factor analysis to estimate factor loadings within each construct and correlation(s) between the constructs.

RESULTS: In exploratory item factor analysis, the log-likelihood ratio test and Akaike information criterion index favored the 3-factor model, with factors reflecting the SOE, OSCE Communication and Professionalism, and OSCE Technical Skills. The Bayesian information criterion index favored the 2-factor model, with factors reflecting the SOE and the OSCE. In confirmatory item factor analysis, both models suggest moderate correlation between the SOE factor and the OSCE factor; the correlation was 0.49 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.42-0.55) for the 3-factor model and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.54-0.64) for the 2-factor model. The factor loadings were lower for Technical Skills stations of the OSCE (ranging from 0.11 to 0.25) compared with those of the SOE and Communication and Professionalism stations of the OSCE (ranging from 0.36 to 0.50).

CONCLUSIONS: The analyses provide evidence that the SOE and the OSCE measure distinct constructs, supporting the rationale for administering both components of the APPLIED Examination for initial certification in anesthesiology.

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