Dental student suturing skills: a multicentre trial of a checklist-based assessment

M. Macluskey (Lead / Corresponding author), J. Durham, C. Balmer, A. Bell, J. Cowpe, L. Dawson, C. Freeman, C. Hanson, A. McDonagh, J. Jones, L. Millsopp, R. Oliver

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The assessment of clinical skills is essential to determine whether an undergraduate is competent to perform the tasks outlined in the curriculum. Such assessments in dentistry have historically not been subjected to large scale validity and reliability testing due the relatively small student numbers at each institute. The aims of this study were to test the validity and reliability of a standardised, checklist-based, suturing objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and then to perform a multicentre trial to determine its performance over a large cohort of students.

    Materials and methods: A total of seven UK schools agreed to take part in the trial. To test the validity and reliability of the checklist, the examiner at each institution reviewed and scored video footage of 10 students performing the assessment. Each institution then carried out the assessment providing a checklist score and a global score for each of their own students.

    Results: The assessment was well received by the staff, with acceptable inter-examiner variability. In total, 496 students completed the suturing OSCE with a success rate of 81% with a variation between schools of between 66% and 96%. A significant correlation was found between the checklist score and the global score (r = 0.361, P = 0.000). No one item on the checklist was found to be a determinant factor in the outcome of the OSCE.

    Conclusions: This checklist-based assessment of suturing skills was found to have face and content validity. Its reliability was promising, but merits further investigation. There may be an argument for the standardisation of the assessment of this core surgical skill throughout several UK-based dental schools.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)244-249
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


    • competence
    • assessment
    • suturing
    • dental students
    • validity


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