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Original Research

Validating competencies for an undergraduate training program in rural medicine using the Delphi technique

Submitted: 21 December 2015
Revised: 26 July 2016
Accepted: 8 August 2016
Published: 21 November 2016

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Author(s) : Gouveia EAH, Braga TD, Heráclio SA, Pessoa BS.

Citation: Gouveia EAH, Braga TD, Heráclio SA, Pessoa BS.  Validating competencies for an undergraduate training program in rural medicine using the Delphi technique. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2016; 16: 3851. Available: (Accessed 25 September 2017)


Introduction:  Worldwide, half the population lives in rural or remote areas; however, less than 25% of doctors work in such regions. Despite the continental dimensions of Brazil and its enormous cultural diversity, only some medical schools in this country offer students the opportunity to acquire work experience focused on medicine in rural or remote areas. The objective of the present study was to develop a framework of competencies for a longitudinal medical training program in rural medicine as an integrated part of medical training in Brazil.
Methods:  Two rounds of a modified version of the Delphi technique were conducted. Initially, a structured questionnaire was elaborated, based on a literature review. This questionnaire was submitted to the opinion of 20 panelists affiliated with the Rural Medicine Working Party of the Brazilian Society of Family and Community Medicine. The panelists were asked to evaluate the relevance of the competencies using a five-point Likert-type scale. In this study, the consensus criterion for a competency to be included in the framework was it being deemed 'very important' or 'indispensable' by a simple majority of the participants, while the criterion for excluding a competency was that a simple majority of the panel members considered that it 'should not be included' or was 'of little importance'. When a consensus was not reached regarding a given competency, it was submitted to a second round to enable the panelists to re-evaluate the now dichotomized questions.
Results:  Compliance in responding to the questionnaire was better among the panelists predominantly involved in teaching activities (85%; n=12) compared to those working principally in patient care (45%; n=8). The questionnaire consisted of 26 core competencies and 165 secondary competencies. After evaluation by the specialists, all the 26 core competencies were classified as relevant, with none being excluded and only eight secondary competencies failing to achieve a consensus. No new competencies were suggested. Of the competencies that failed to reach a consensus in the first round, seven were excluded from the framework in the second round, with most of these being associated with hospital procedures.
Conclusions:  A framework of competencies for a program in rural medicine was developed and validated. It consists of 26 core competencies and 158 secondary competencies that should be useful when constructing competency-based curricula in rural medicine for medical education in Brazil.

Key words: Brazil, curriculum, medical education, medical training, professional competency.

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