Deliberate practice as an educational method for learning to interpret the prepubescent female genital examination

A. L. Davis, M. Pecaric, M. V. Pusic, T. Smith, M. Shouldice, J. Brown, S. A. Wynter, L. Legano, J. Kondrich, K. Boutis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Correct interpretation of the prepubescent female genital examination is a critical skill; however, physician skill in this area is limited. Objective: To complement the bedside learning of this examination, we developed a learning platform for the visual diagnosis of the prepubescent female genital examination and examined the amount and rate of skill acquisition. Participants and Setting: Medical students, residents, and fellows and attendings participated in an on-line learning platform. Methods: This was a multicenter prospective cross-sectional study. Study participants deliberately practiced 158 prepubescent female genital examination cases hosted on a computer-based learning and assessment platform. Participants assigned the case normal or abnormal; if abnormal, they identified the location of the abnormality and the specific diagnosis. Participants received feedback after every case. Results: We enrolled 107 participants (26 students, 31 residents, 24 fellows and 26 attendings). Accuracy (95 % CI) increased by 10.3 % (7.8, 12.8), Cohen's d-effect size of 1.17 (1.14, 1.19). The change in specificity was +16.8 (14.1, 19.5) and sensitivity +2.4 (-0.9, 5.6). It took a mean (SD) 46.3 (32.2) minutes to complete cases. There was no difference between learner types with respect to initial (p = 0.2) or final accuracy (p = 0.4) scores. Conclusions: This study's learning intervention led to effective and feasible skill improvement. However, while participants improved significantly with normal cases, which has relevance in reducing unnecessary referrals to child protection teams, learning gains were not as evident in abnormal cases. All levels of learners demonstrated a similar performance, emphasizing the need for this education even among experienced clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104379
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Child abuse
  • Deliberate practice
  • Education
  • Medical
  • Physical examination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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