3.8.3 Can a physio assess a nurse? (175)

Annie Topping, Director of the Centre for Health & Social Care Research, Nursing, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom Co authors: Carol Young & Andy Scally a.e.topping@hud.ac.uk



Traditionally health care professional (HCP) pre-registration programmes have adopted a uni-disciplinary approach to competency assessment. In the United Kingdom educational providers have been encouraged to enrich curricula with interprofessional learning recognising that quality health care is delivered by effective multidisciplinary teams with sound communication skills. Interprofessional assessment is less developed. Communication along with team working, problem solving and decision making could be seen as core HCP skills. Yet poor communication is the greatest source of complaints from service users (Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection, 2007).


This study sought to examine whether HCPs could reliably assess communication skills demonstrated by students from a different discipline.


A mixed method design involving structured observation of simulated care delivery and focus group interviews was undertaken. Nursing students (n=42) undertaking a formative assessment of clinical skills in a simulated clinical learning environment were observed by two practice assessors (nurse and other HCP discipline). Assessors independently rated individual student communication performance delivering care to a simulated patient. Concurrently the nurse assessor judged overall clinical skills performance. Observational data was analysed using STATAv9.2. Focus group interviews with assessors from all HCP disciplines involved in the study (2 groups; n=13) and a volunteer sample of students (n=3) were undertaken separately. These were audiotaped, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis (Kreugar & Casey 2000).


Analysis of the observational data demonstrates a statistically high level of agreement (p < 0.001) between assessor grades. This suggests assessors irrespective of discipline can reliably make an overall judgement of communication competence. Participants considered cross-discipline assessment to be a valid component of pre-registration practice education.


This paper will discuss reliability and validity of cross disciplinary assessment of communication competence and explore the implications for practice assessment in real world settings.

Recommended reading list:

  • Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (2007) Spotlight. January 2007 London on Complaints
  • Krueger R A & Casey M A (2000) Focus Groups: a practical guide for applied research. 3rd Edition. London Sage Publications
  • Mackay K, Wilson M, Ritchie A, Brady J (2005) Integrated assessment: Shared approach to performance assessment. Final report on the demonstration projects. Scottish institute for excellence in social work education

Source of Funding: UK - Higher Education Institution

Level of funding: 50,001 - 100,000


Carol Young is a Physiotherapist and Lecturer in the Division of Rehabilitation Studies, University of Bradford. She has an interest in interprofessional learning. Annie Topping is Professor and Director of the Centre for Health & Social Care Research, University of Huddersfield and a member of the RCN Research Society Steering Committtee Andy Scally is a Radiographer, Medical Statiscian and Senior Lecturer in the Division of Radiography, University of Bradford