Document Type


Publication Date

July 2003


This is the final author's version of the article before it was published in Medical Teacher, volume 25, pp. 433-437, July 2003. The published version is available at


Despite the emphasis placed on physicians’ lifelong learning, no psychometrically sound instrument has been developed to provide an operational measure of the concept and its components among physicians. The authors designed this study to develop a tool for measuring physician lifelong learning, to identify its underlying components and to assess its psychometric properties. A 37-item questionnaire was developed, based on a review of literature and the results of two pilot studies. Psychometric analyses of the responses of 160 physicians identified 19 items that were included in the Jefferson Scale of Physician Lifelong Learning. Factor analysis of the 19 items showed five meaningful factors that were consistent with the definition and major features of lifelong learning. They were ‘need recognition’, ‘research endeavor’, ‘self-initiation’, ‘technical skills’ and ‘personal motivation’. The method of contrasted groups provided evidence in support of the validity of the five factors. The factors’ reliability was assessed by coefficient alpha.

It is concluded that lifelong learning is a multifaceted concept, and its operational measure is feasible for evaluating different educational programs and for studying group differences among physicians.