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Open Access Research article

Cutting costs of multiple mini-interviews – changes in reliability and efficiency of the Hamburg medical school admission test between two applications

Johanna C Hissbach1, Susanne Sehner2, Sigrid Harendza3 and Wolfgang Hampe1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Center for Experimental Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, Hamburg 20246, Germany

2 Department of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, Center for Experimental Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, Hamburg 20246, Germany

3 III Department of Internal Medicine, Center for Internal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, Hamburg 20246, Germany

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:54  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-54

Published: 19 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Multiple mini-interviews (MMIs) are a valuable tool in medical school selection due to their broad acceptance and promising psychometric properties. With respect to the high expenses associated with this procedure, the discussion about its feasibility should be extended to cost-effectiveness issues.

Methods

Following a pilot test of MMIs for medical school admission at Hamburg University in 2009 (HAM-Int), we took several actions to improve reliability and to reduce costs of the subsequent procedure in 2010. For both years, we assessed overall and inter-rater reliabilities based on multilevel analyses. Moreover, we provide a detailed specification of costs, as well as an extrapolation of the interrelation of costs, reliability, and the setup of the procedure.

Results

The overall reliability of the initial 2009 HAM-Int procedure with twelve stations and an average of 2.33 raters per station was ICC=0.75. Following the improvement actions, in 2010 the ICC remained stable at 0.76, despite the reduction of the process to nine stations and 2.17 raters per station. Moreover, costs were cut down from $915 to $495 per candidate. With the 2010 modalities, we could have reached an ICC of 0.80 with 16 single rater stations ($570 per candidate).

Conclusions

With respect to reliability and cost-efficiency, it is generally worthwhile to invest in scoring, rater training and scenario development. Moreover, it is more beneficial to increase the number of stations instead of raters within stations. However, if we want to achieve more than 80 % reliability, a minor improvement is paid with skyrocketing costs.

Keywords:
Multiple mini interview; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Reliability; Optimization