Validating the Test Plan Specifications for the American Board of Family Medicine's Certification Examination

Thomas R. O'Neill, Michael R. Peabody, Keith L. Stelter, James C. Puffer, John E. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To demonstrate the degree to which the American Board of Family Medicine's certification examination is representative of family physician practice with regard to frequency of diagnoses encounter and the criticality of the diagnoses. METHODS: Data from 2012 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey was used to assess the frequency of diagnoses encountered by family physicians nationally. These diagnoses were also rated by a panel of content experts for how critical it was to diagnose and treat the condition correctly and then assign the condition to 1 of the 16 content categories used on the American Board of Family Medicine examination. These ratings of frequency and criticality were used to create 7 different new schemas to compute percentages for the content categories. RESULTS: The content category percentages for the 7 different schemas correlated with the 2006 to 2016 test plan percentages from 0.50 to 0.90 with the frequency conditions being more highly correlated and the criticality conditions being less correlated. CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the continued use of the current Family Medicine Certification Examination content specifications as being representative of current family medicine practice; however, small adjustments might be warranted to permit better representation of the criticality of the topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-882
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Certification
  • Educational Measurement
  • Exam Blueprint
  • Family Physicians
  • General Practitioners
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Medical Education
  • Psychometrics
  • Validity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Validation Study


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