O'Dowd E, Lydon S, O'Connor P, Madden C, Byrne D.
This review aimed to synthesise some of the extant work on the use of entrustable professional activities (EPAs) for postgraduate physicians, to assess the quality of the work and provide direction for future research and practice.
Systematic searches were conducted within five electronic databases (Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO and CINAHL) in September 2018. Reference lists, Google Scholar and Google were also searched. Methodological quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment Tool for Studies with Diverse Designs (QATSDD).
In total, 49 studies were included, classified as Development of EPAs (n = 37; 76% of total included), Implementation and/or assessment of EPAs (n = 10; 20%), or both (n = 2; 4%). EPAs were described for numerous specialties, including internal medicine (n = 14; 36%), paediatrics (n = 8; 21%) and psychiatry (n = 4; 10%). Of the development studies, 92% utilised more than one method to generate EPAs. The two most commonly used methods were developing initial EPAs in a working group, (n = 27; 69%) and revising through deliberation (n = 21; 54%). Development papers were of variable quality (mean QATSDD score = 20, range 6-41). Implementation and assessment studies utilised methods that included observing trainee performance (n = 6; 50%) and enrolling trainees in competency-based curricula, which included EPAs (n = 4; 33%). The methodological quality of these implementation studies varied (mean QATSDD score = 19.5, range = 6-32).
This review highlighted a need for: (i) consideration of best practice guidelines for EPA development; (ii) focus on the methodological quality of research on EPA development and of EPAs, and (iii) further work investigating the implementation of EPAs in the curriculum.