Acad Med. 2021 May 25. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004178. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Fellows and residents provide inpatient consultations. Though consults vary considerably, measuring the associated cognitive load (CL) is key to guiding faculty on how to optimize learning during consults. However, existing CL instruments, such as the unidimensional Paas scale, cannot separate the 3 components of CL and may miss the nuances of consult CL. Therefore, the authors developed the Consult Cognitive Load (CCL) instrument to measure the 3 CL components during consults.
METHOD: In 2018-2019, the authors developed the CCL at the University of California, San Francisco, using Wilson's constructive approach to measurement. To generate content and response process validity evidence, the authors consulted the literature and experts to generate construct maps, items, and a scoring rubric and conducted cognitive interviews. They administered the CCL to internal medicine and psychiatry trainees across 5 University of California campuses and used Rasch family and linear regression models to assess internal structure validity and relationships to key predictor variables. They compared the CCL with the Paas scale using Wright maps and used latent correlations to support separating CL into 3 components.
RESULTS: Analysis revealed appropriate fit statistics, appropriate mean respondent location increases across all levels, threshold banding, and expected relationships with key predictor variables. The CCL provided more coverage of the 3 CL components compared to the Paas scale. Correlations among the 3 CL components were not strong, suggesting that the CCL offers more nuance than a unidimensional measure of CL in the context of consults.
CONCLUSIONS: This study generated initial validity evidence to support the CCL's use as a measure of consult CL and supports measuring the 3 CL components separately rather than as a single construct in the context of consults. Learners and faculty could compare learner CCL scores to reference scores to promote reflection, metacognition, and coaching.