FAQ on Profiled Residency Programs

Frequently Asked Question:  If the “profiled residency programs” participating in the National Project on the Community Benefits of Family Medicine Residency Programs are viewed as a “non-representative sample” of residencies, wouldn’t that invalidate some of the findings of the study?

A promotional banner for the USC/California Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles
A promotional banner for the USC/California Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles, site of family medicine residency training

No, not if one understands the National Project’s objectives, and how the National Project advances those objectives.  The National Project is designed to model relationships between family medicine residency programs, their points of continuity services, their host institutions and their communities.  Our approach is ecological, and embraces the scientific techniques of the social sciences. Once models are built to describe an array of networks and arrangements, then one can use traditional statistical methods to determine prevalence and statistical significance.

Users of our current data need to think of the information-gathering techniques and its presentation as a narrative, a type of “qualitative” description of a diverse collection of family medicine programs, rather than a completely objective sample of family medicine residencies. As the sample size grows, it is anticipated that further quantitative analysis will yield statistically rigorous knowledge, but this in no way minimizes the value of what has been collected so far.

The National Project’s chief concern is to construct a richly diverse, rather than a representative sample.  We have actively encouraged the participation of programs who train residents in atypical settings, including programs owned by non-profit health plans and programs located in faith-based homeless shelters.

Even though we have encouraged the participation of residency programs from throughout the nation, we have not attempted to prevent “over-representation” of certain geographical areas in our group of programs, and, in fact, are able to employ our advanced geographical information system tools advantageously in those regions where multiple residency programs are located.

That said, each of the major categories of residency programs – those operated by academic health centers, non-profit community health centers, and public hospitals – are represented in significant numbers. Furthermore, because we are able to characterize accurately the key elements both of those residency programs within our sample and those programs excluded from it, we are able to construct a stratified sample that itself is representative of any category of family medicine residency program or of the entire universe itself.

FAQ response  prepared by William H. Burnett MA; Charles E. Henley, DO, MPH; Perry A. Pugno, MD, MPH; and Robert G. Ross, MD

Last Updated (24 May 2005 09:19)

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