Validation of a pre-/post-survey to measure change in student social justice attitudes and empathy

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Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning


Introduction: Despite endorsement by the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE), doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students are infrequently taught concepts related to social justice and empathy in a formal capacity. In addition, no validated measure exists to examine changes in these attitudes. Therefore, we tested the ability of a survey to predict changes in social justice and professional empathy attitudes in PharmD students. Methods: Retrospective pre-/post-data collected from PharmD students who completed a population health course at two schools of pharmacy were used to assess validity and reliability of the Social Justice and Empathy Assessment (SJEA) survey. A partial-credit Rasch model was used to test for uni-dimensionality, person and item fit, and rating scale functioning, as well as construct and content validity. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the effect of demographic covariates on the extent of pre-/post-change. Results: Of 396 participating students, 60% were non-Hispanic White and 57% were male. The scale demonstrated evidence of uni-dimensionality of a construct designated “social justice self-efficacy.” The rating scale functioned best as a three-option scale. Four items were removed to optimize person-item distribution, though few items were difficult to endorse. Attending the private school was significantly associated with increased pre-/post-change. Conclusions: The SJEA is functional as a criterion-referenced assessment to determine whether minimum competency in social justice self-efficacy is experienced before or after participation in a CAPE-informed educational program. Further research should explore contextual predictors of change in social justice self-efficacy.

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