On call competence - Developing a tool for self assessment

Sandy Thomas, M-A Borad, Jane Cross, Suzanne Gough, Beverley Harden, Paul Ritson, Matthew Quint

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


PURPOSE: To develop and validate a self-evaluation tool (questionnaire)
to identify perceived competence and confidence felt
by physiotherapists undertaking emergency duty. RELEVANCE:
Physiotherapists in the UK may be required to undertake Emergency
Duty (On Call respiratory care) with little or no opportunity to
work with patients with respiratory problems during their working
week. This poses a challenge for therapists who need to maintain
and demonstrate their competence in this area. Emergency duty
guidelines (EDG) were published in 2002 and this self-evaluation
tool is being developed to help individuals identify specific learning
needs based on these guidelines. The tool supports the reflective
approach to competence advocated by the Chartered Society of
Physiotherapy and could be used to provide evidence of continuing
professional development as required by the Health Professions
Council. PARTICIPANTS: 180 Senior respiratory physiotherapists
attending ‘On course for on call’ conferences in Autumn 2005.
METHODS: A questionnaire for rating self perceived competence
was developed from criteria in the Emergency duty guidelines (EDG).
A triangulation approach was used to evaluate content validity.
Respiratory experts completed the questionnaire and gave written
feedback and 15 particpated in semi-structured follow up telephone
interviews. An initial pilot led to item refinement resulting in 12
assessment, 10 treatment and 5 confidence items, and 10 additional
range items addressing perceived competence in different situations.
Likert scales were used to rate each item. Ethical approval for the
study was obtained from Southmead Research Ethics committee.
ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics were compiled for each item.
Internal consistency was analysed using Cronbach’s alpha. Total
competence scores for each section were calculated. Themes were
derived from open questions and interviews (analysed separately
by two reviewers) using content analysis.
RESULTS: There were
143 responses (74% response rate) Over 90% of participants
either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ (that they were competent)
for all assessment and treatment items.The mean competence
score was 91% (median 93.8%). Cronbach’s alpha demonstrated
strong internal consistency between items .965 (assessment)
.976 (treatment) .925 (range) and .909 (confidence). Participants
supported the competencies but requested additional items and
clearer instructions. The importance of current, regular clinical
experience in determining competence was highlighted. Experience,
self-confidence, and attitude to on-call may affect competence rating,
and therefore the reliance on self-evaluation to assess competence
was questioned.
CONCLUSIONS: Respiratory experts supported
the development of this tool to help therapists identify their oncall
learning needs and facilitate transferability between trusts.
Content validity of scale items was demonstrated through the
consistency of responses from senior respiratory clinicians. Further
research is needed to assess repeatability prior to undertaking
a national survey. The tool is now ready for use to support
reflective practice but further work is needed before recommended
competence scores can be agreed for summative assessment
IMPLICATIONS: A national tool is now available for
therapists to identify their learning needs and support their reflective
practice.The items were written for those working mainly with adult
patients and may need adapting for paediatric physiotherapists. The
tool is based on core respiratory competencies and could potentially be adapted for use with students or staff working in respiratory care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S133-S134
Number of pages2
Issue numberSuppl 1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event15th WCPT World Congress of Physical Therapy - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 2 Jun 20076 Jun 2007


Cite this

Thomas, S., Borad, M-A., Cross, J., Gough, S., Harden, B., Ritson, P., & Quint, M. (2007). On call competence - Developing a tool for self assessment. Physiotherapy, 93(Suppl 1), S133-S134. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9406(07)60001-7