Use of flawed multiple-choice items by the New England Journal of Medicine for continuing medical education.

Research paper by Alex S AS Stagnaro-Green, Steven M SM Downing

Indexed on: 01 Nov '06Published on: 01 Nov '06Published in: Medical teacher


Physicians in the United States are required to complete a minimum number of continuing medical education (CME) credits annually. The goal of CME is to ensure that physicians maintain their knowledge and skills throughout their medical career. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) provides its readers with the opportunity to obtain weekly CME credits. Deviation from established item-writing principles may result in a decrease in validity evidence for tests. This study evaluated the quality of 40 NEJM MCQs using the standard evidence-based principles of effective item writing. Each multiple-choice item reviewed had at least three item flaws, with a mean of 5.1 and a range of 3 to 7. The results of this study demonstrate that the NEJM uses flawed MCQs in its weekly CME program.