Wee Shiong Lim1, 2, Kar Mun Tham3, Fadzli Baharom Adzahar, Han Yee Neo4, Wei Chin Wong1, Issac Lim2, Charlotte Ringsted5 & Dujeepa D. Samarasekera6

1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Institute of Geriatrics & Active Aging, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore; 2Health Outcomes and Medical Education Research, National Healthcare Group, Singapore; 3Department of Anaesthesiology, SingHealth, Singapore; 4Department of Palliative Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore; 5Centre for Health Science Education, Faculty of Health, Aarhus University, Denmark; 6Centre for Medical Education, National University of Singapore


Background: In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has become a hotbed of activity in medical education. Little is known about the progress in advancing the field through clarification research studies situated within a strong conceptual framework vis-a-vis descriptive (“What was done?”) and justification (“Did it work?”) research purposes. We aimed to determine the trend in clarification as opposed to descriptive and justification research purposes in the Asia-Pacific region over a 5-year period.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review of original research abstracts presented at the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Asia Pacific Medical Education Conferences. All eligible abstracts were classified as descriptive, justification or clarification using the modified Cook (2008) research purpose framework. All abstracts were reviewed by two researchers, with disagreement resolved by consensus. We performed trended Chi-square tests followed by logistic regression adjusted for covariates, to determine the longitudinal trend in clarification studies.

Results: Our sample comprised 517 abstracts (2008:136; 2010:195; 2012:186). There was a significant trend towards an increase in clarification studies from 2008 to 2012 (4.4% vs 8.7% vs 12.9%, p=.001), even after excluding submissions from non-Asian countries. When adjusted for covariates, abstracts in 2012 significantly predicted a clarification research purpose compared to 2008 (OR 2.74, 95% CI 1.04-7.23). A non-descriptive study design also significantly predicted clarification studies (OR 7.07, 95% CI 3.17-15.75).

Conclusions: Our results of a trend towards increased clarification research purpose affirm the longitudinal progress in quality of medical education research in the Asia-Pacific region. Efforts should be made to promote non-descriptive study designs that are undergirded in clarification research purpose.

Keywords:            Medical Education Research, Clarification Research Purpose, Asia-Pacific, Scoping Review

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