Background: Since the onset of the Corona pandemic at the beginning of 2020, the extreme importance of hygiene has once again become very clear. In the medical context, it is not easy to find suitable test formats to assess the competencies involved in “working hygienically”. Pre-existing test formats usually use self-report questionnaires, which are suboptimal for this purpose.
Methods: We designed a Situational Judgement Test (SJT) to assess hygiene competence. The SJT incorporates reliable measures and is a good predictor of job performance. The test consists of twenty pictures (items) presenting only one unambiguous hygiene lapse. Test respondents were asked (1) to note down whether they recognized a problem in the picture in respect of hygiene guidelines and (2), if yes, to describe the problem in a short verbal response. The sample comprised n = 149 health care professionals (79.1% female; age: M = 26.7 years, SD = 7.3 years) working as clinicians or nurses. The written responses were rated by two independent raters with high agreement (α > .80), indicating high reliability of the measurement. We then used Item Response Theory (IRT) for data analysis.
Results: The reported IRT analyses show that the test is suitable to assess hygiene competence and that it is possible to distinguish between persons demonstrating different levels of ability for seventeen of the twenty items/pictures), expecially for the range of low to medium person abilities.
Conclusions: The test in its present form can be used to assess the hygiene competence of medical students, medical doctors, nurses and trainee nurses in cross-sectional measurements. In order to broaden the difficulty spectrum of the current test, additional test items with higher difficulty should be developed. The Situational Judgement Test designed to assess hygiene competence can be helpful in testing and teaching the ability of working hygienically.