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Sharing examination questions threatens trust in medical profession
Date:4/29/2013

es in the detail and specificity of information transmitted," they say.

The authors review the literature and discuss what drives dishonest behavior. Cheating is surprisingly common among medical students, with estimates ranging widely between five and 88%. Of medical students surveyed, 59% believed that cheating was impossible to eliminate because of its pervasiveness. Perhaps of greatest concern for the public, cheating on examinations by medical students correlates with falsifying information in a patient's medical record.

"Difficult exam content unnecessary for clinical care, the desire to assist friends, and peer behavior are important factors," says Ruhnke. For example, subjects not immediately relevant for clinical care, such as biochemistry and pharmacology, are seen as a "rite of passage." Assignment and test content that medical students view as unnecessary for clinical care makes them more likely to cheat.

The authors consider a number of potential interventions that might reduce the impetus to reproduce questions in verbatim form, such as not reusing test questions and the return of oral examinations, but recognize separate challenges of such solutions. Avoiding the reuse of test questions might threaten the statistical reliability and consistency of passing standards. In addition, harsh punishments are unlikely to be completely effective because their impact on peer behavior is not sufficiently powerful.

The authors urge the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Association of American Medical Colleges to establish guidelines regarding the detail and specificity of information that examinees may ethically disclose, and to be proactive in requiring examinees to acknowledge that reproduction or dissemination of test materials is both illegal and a violation of professional standards.

"Successful certification must demonstrate that physicians are vested with the trust of their peers but also the public.
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Contact: Rachael Zaleski
mcpmedia@elsevier.com
215-239-3658
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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