Measuring Social Accountability in Health Professional Education

Development and International Pilot Testing of an Evaluation Framework

Background: Health professional schools are responsible for producing graduates with competencies and attitudes to address health inequities and respond to priority health needs. Health professional schools striving towards social accountability founded the Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet).

Aim: This article describes the development of THEnet evaluation framework for socially accountable health professional education, presents the framework to be used as a tool by other schools and discusses the findings of pilot implementation at five schools.

Methods: The framework was designed collaboratively and built on Boelen and Woollard’s conceptualization, production and usability model. It includes key components, linked to aspirational statements, indicators and suggested measurement tools. Five schools completed pilot implementation, involving workshops, document/data review and focus group discussions with faculty, students and community members.

Results: Three sections of the framework consider: How does our school work?; What do we do? and What difference do we make? Pilot testing proved that the evaluation framework was acceptable and feasible across contexts and produced findings useful at school level and to compare schools. The framework is designed as a formative exercise to help schools take a critical look at their performance and progress towards social accountability. Initiatives to implement the framework more widely are underway. The framework effectively aids in identifying strengths, weaknesses and gaps, with a view to schools striving for continuous self-improvement.

Conclusion: THEnet evaluation framework is applicable and useful across contexts. It is possible and desirable to assess progress towards social accountability in health professional schools and this is an important step in producing health professionals with knowledge, attitudes, and skills to meet the challenges of priority health needs of underserved populations.

CitationLarkins SL, Preston R, Matte MC, et al. Measuring social accountability in health professional education: development and international pilot testing of an evaluation framework. Med Teach. 2013;35(1):32-45. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.731106. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

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