Purpose. To evaluate the effectiveness of pelvic examination training for internal medicine interns conducted by instructors who also serve as models for the examination. Method. In 2001, 80 interns from three university internal medicine residencies completed questionnaires about their experiences with pelvic examinations. Interns who were available for training underwent baseline assessment of their pelvic examination skills and were randomized to training or to a control group that received only educational literature. Skills were assessed with a 29-item checklist at baseline and at follow-up by evaluators blinded to group assignment, and interrater agreement was estimated by review of audiotapes. Results. Seventy-two interns were randomized and underwent baseline skills assessment. Seventy interns returned for follow-up assessment after approximately 14 weeks (range, 10-17 weeks). The 39 interns randomized to training and 33 randomized to the control group did not differ with respect to age, gender, or prior pelvic examination training. In both groups there was substantial variability in skills at baseline, with graduates of U.S. medical schools scoring significantly higher than did graduates of non-U.S. medical schools (0.66 versus 0.41, p < 10-5). Interns randomized to training had significantly higher scores at follow-up than did interns in the control group (0.79 versus 0.57, p < 10-6). For seven items verifiable by audiotape, interrater agreement was good (overall κ, 0.54; range among items, 0.3-0.85). Conclusion. Specialized trainers can reliably evaluate and improve the pelvic examination skills of interns, and improvements are demonstrable three months after training. Further research is needed to ascertain whether training efficiency can be improved and to measure the impact of training on patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.
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