Key features

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Key feature questions are the decisions pivotal to the successful outcome of a patient case [Farmer 2005]. These are challenging aspects in the diagnosis and management of a clinical problem where the students are most likely to make errors. A key-feature question starts with a short patient vignette (age, gender, setting, reason for consultation etc.) which is followed by 2-3 multiple choice questions based on the same vignette and focused on testing key features. The first question is usually about the diagnosis and the second on the treatment. In order not to cue the right answer the candidates are requested to select answers from a booklet of many possible answers or from a long-menu in case of computer-based key-feature questions.

  • Farmer EA, Page G. A practical guide to assessing clinical decision-making skills using the key features approach. Med Educ. 2005;39(12):1188-94. (Link)
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