Patient care ownership in medical students: a validation study

Tasha R. Wyatt*, Elena A. Wood, Jennifer L. Waller, Sarah C. Egan, Lara M. Stepleman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychological Ownership is the cognitive-affective state individuals experience when they come to feel they own something. The construct is context-dependent reliant on what is being owned and by whom. In medical education, this feeling translates to what has been described as “Patient Care Ownership,” which includes the feelings of responsibility that physicians have for patient care. In this study, we adapted an instrument on Psychological Ownership that was originally developed for business employees for a medical student population. The aim of this study was to collect validity evidence for its fit with this population. Methods: A revised version of the Psychological Ownership survey was created and administered to 182 medical students rotating on their clerkships in 2018–2019, along with two other measures, the Teamwork Assessment Scale (TSA) and Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) Survey. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted, which indicated a poor fit between the original and revised version. As a result, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted and validity evidence was gathered to assess the new instruments’ fit with medical students. Results: The results show that the initial subscales proposed by Avey et al. (i.e. Territoriality, Accountability, Belongingness, Self-efficacy, and Self-identification) did not account for item responses in the revised instrument when administered to medical students. Instead, four subscales (Team Inclusion, Accountability, Territoriality, and Self-Confidence) better described patient care ownership for medical students, and the internal reliability of these subscales was found to be good. Using Cronbach’s alpha, the internal consistency among items for each subscale, includes: Team Inclusion (0.91), Accountability (0.78), Territoriality (0.78), and Self-Confidence (0.82). The subscales of Territoriality, Team Inclusion, and Self-Confidence were negatively correlated with the 1-item Burnout measure (P = 0.01). The Team Inclusion subscale strongly correlated with the Teamwork Assessment Scale (TSA), while the subscales of Accountability correlated weakly, and Self-Confidence and Territoriality correlated moderately. Conclusion: Our study provides preliminary validity evidence for an adapted version of Avey et al.’s Psychological Ownership survey, specifically designed to measure patient care ownership in a medical student population. We expect this revised instrument to be a valuable tool to medical educators evaluating and monitoring students as they learn how to engage in patient care ownership.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Instrument
  • Medical students
  • Patient care ownership
  • Undergraduate medical education
  • Validity


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