MSK30: A validated tool to assess clinical musculoskeletal knowledge

Danielle L. Cummings*, Matthew Smith, Brian Merrigan, Jeffrey Leggit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background Musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints comprise a large proportion of outpatient visits. However, multiple studies show that medical school curriculum often fails to adequately prepare graduates to diagnose and manage common MSK problems. Current standardised exams inadequately assess trainees' MSK knowledge and other MSK-specific exams such as Freedman and Bernstein's (1998) exam have limitations in implementation. We propose a new 30-question multiple choice exam for graduating medical students and primary care residents. Results highlight individual deficiencies and identify areas for curriculum improvement. Methods/Results We developed a bank of multiple choice questions based on 10 critical topics in MSK medicine. The questions were validated with subject-matter experts (SMEs) using a modified Delphi method to obtain consensus on the importance of each question. Based on the SME input, we compiled 30 questions in the assessment. Results of the large-scale pilot test (167 post-clerkship medical students) were an average score of 74 % (range 53% - 90 %, SD 7.8%). In addition, the tool contains detailed explanations and references were created for each question to allow an individual or group to review and enhance learning. Summary The proposed MSK30 exam evaluates clinically important topics and offers an assessment tool for clinical MSK knowledge of medical students and residents. It fills a gap in current curriculum and improves on previous MSK-specific assessments through better clinical relevance and consistent grading. Educators can use the results of the exam to guide curriculum development and individual education.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000495
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • assessment
  • education
  • musculoskeletal medicine


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