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Open Access Research article

The DREEM, part 2: psychometric properties in an osteopathic student population

Brett Vaughan12*, Jane Mulcahy1 and Patrick McLaughlin12

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Health & Biomedicine, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

2 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:100  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-100

Published: 20 May 2014

Abstract

Background

The Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) is widely used to assess the educational environment in health professional education programs. A number of authors have identified issues with the psychometric properties of the DREEM. Part 1 of this series of papers presented the quantitative data obtained from the DREEM in the context of an Australian osteopathy program. The present study used both classical test theory and item response theory to investigate the DREEM psychometric properties in an osteopathy student population.

Methods

Students in the osteopathy program at Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia) were invited to complete the DREEM and a demographic questionnaire at the end of the 2013 teaching year (October 2013). Data were analysed using both classical test theory (confirmatory factor analysis) and item response theory (Rasch analysis).

Results

Confirmatory factor analysis did not demonstrate model fit for the original 5-factor DREEM subscale structure. Rasch analysis failed to identify a unidimensional model fit for the 50-item scale, however model fit was achieved for each of the 5 subscales independently. A 12-item version of the DREEM was developed that demonstrated good fit to the Rasch model, however, there may be an issue with the targeting of this scale given the mean item-person location being greater than 1.

Conclusions

Given that the full 50-item scale is not unidimensional; those using the DREEM should avoid calculating a total score for the scale. The 12-item ‘short-form’ of the DREEM warrants further investigation as does the subscale structure. To confirm the reliability of the DREEM, as a measure to evaluate the appropriateness of the educational environment of health professionals, further work is required to establish the psychometric properties of the DREEM, with a range of student populations.