Background: To determine whether osteopathic medical students, fellows, residents, and practicing
physicians differ in their ability to identify inanimate objects and if these skills relate to
Methods: Fifteen commonly known objects were fixed to a board and blinded with a cotton cloth. In
Part I of testing, participants were asked to identify 9 objects, with choices provided. In Part
II participants were asked to identify 6 objects using one word only. Part III consisted of
identifying the shape of an object in Part II.
Results: Eighty-nine osteopathic medical students, fellows, residents, and practicing physicians
participated in the study. Overall, correct identification of objects was higher in Part I with
choices than in Part II without choices available. No statistically significant difference was
found among osteopathic medical students, fellows, residents, and practicing physicians in
the correct identification of the objects.
Conclusions: Accuracy in tactile identification of objects among varying levels of palpatory experience
was not found. Correlation with clinical palpation cannot be made as it requires a subset of palpatory skills not tested in this study. Accuracy and measurement of palpation should be studied further to demonstrate if palpatory experience improves palpatory accuracy.
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