Paul Tiffin
Reader in Psychometric Epidemiology and NIHR Career Development Fellow

Profile

Biography

Paul is a Reader in Psychometric Epidemiology and a member of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group (MHARG) in the Department of Health Sciences, and holds a joint appointment with the Hull York Medical School (HYMS).

Paul’s academic work is focussed on eliciting and measuring individual differences (psychometrics) and linking these to outcomes. Paul is a psychiatrist by professional background and remains an Honorary NHS Consultant in the Forensic Psychiatry of Adolescence with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. Consequently Paul’s earlier work focussed on population mental health, though more latterly is mainly concerned with the ‘educational epidemiology’ of the healthcare workforce. In particular Paul is recognised for his expertise in exploiting large, routinely arising datasets in clinical education in order to address important questions related to the selection, assessment and regulation of the health workforce.

As a methodologist Paul is interested in the philosophy and mathematics of psychological measurement. Paul refers to the concept of ‘meta-measurement’ which relates to both the indices by which we understand the properties of a psychological measurement (e.g. the information characteristic curve of a test) as well the context in which psychological testing occurs (e.g. the tensions that sometimes exist between obtaining a robust measurement model and the pragmatic, criterion-related validity of a selection test). As lead for the DREAMS network. Paul has been developing new approaches to understanding and communicating the effectiveness of personnel selection methods. Thus, Paul hopes to support the development of ‘Evidence-Based Selection’ in health services. 

Paul graduated from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a medical degree and an intercalated BMedSci(Hons) in psychopharmacology. Paul was later awarded a Medical Doctorate (MD) for his work developing and validating the Family Perceptions Scale - a tool designed to explore and measure subjective family functioning in adolescents.

Paul was previously supported in his research by a HEFCE Clinical Senior Lecturer Fellowship, hosted at Durham University (2009-2014) where he spent some time as co-director for the Centre for Medical Education Research. More latterly Paul was awarded an NIHR Career Development Fellowship to fund a programme of work on selection in the health workforce.

Qualifications

  • BmedSci (Hons. first class), Psychopharmacology, University of Newcastle, 1994
  • MBBS, Medicine and Surgery, University of Newcastle, 1997
  • Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych), 2001
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Newcastle, 2008
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, 2013
  • Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych), 2014

Research

Overview

Paul is interested in exploiting routinely arising data relating to the selection, assessment and regulation of the healthcare workforce.

As a psychometric epidemiologist Paul measures individual differences in the workforce and aims to use these to make predictions about future educational and, ultimately, clinical performance. Paul has previously received research funding from the General Medical Council (the UK Medical Regulator), the Department of Health (DH) for England as well as the UK Clinical Aptitude Test Board, that oversees the selection assessment used by most British Medical Schools.

Paul’s NIHR Fellowship is funding a five year programme of work initially focussed on predictive modelling in medical selection, then intended to develop a situational judgment testing system designed to support values based recruitment (VBR) in mental health services.

From a methodological perspective Paul, as lead for the DREAMS network has been developing new approaches to understanding and communicating the effectiveness of personnel selection methods. In particular the extent to which numerical simulation-based methods (such as imputation) can address the issue of restriction of range in personnel selection (i.e. outcomes can only be observed in successful applicants). This has led to the concept of Number Needed to Reject (NNR) - the ratio of candidates likely to have acceptable performance that would have to be rejected in order to avoid one candidate likely to have an undesirable outcome, for a given selection measure in a given context. Paul has also recently worked on an EPSRC funded project evaluating novel, model based approaches to prediction using machine learning. Paul has been exploring different approaches to modelling responses to Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs).

Projects

Paul is lead investigator on the following current projects:

  • Increasing UKCAT research capacity. This project funds a programme of work exploring the validity of the UKCAT assessment used by most UK medical schools in selection. (Date of award December 2013); £180,000 over 3 years. Funder; UKCAT Board.
  • Developing methodology to establish the construct validity of  selection tests: PhD fellowship. This is a funded PhD fellowship aimed at developing statistical methodology to establish what the true predictive validity of a selection test is likely to be when the outcome cannot be observed in unselected candidates. (Date of award July 2014); £46,500 over three years from UKCAT Board.
  • Enhancing selection of the healthcare workforce: a programme of psychometric Epidemiology. This is a five year NIHR Career Development project. The first stage is focussed on predictive modelling of outcomes in medical selection. The latter part of the project is aimed at developing approaches to the understanding of professionalism in mental health staff using Situational Judgment tests. (Date of award August 2015); £790,000 over five years from NIHR.
  • 2016: £18,000 over 12 months to develop the DREAMS network ( Developing and Researching the Economics and Mathematics of Selection) from the Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund.
  • Developing and Researching the Economics and Mathematics of Selection network. This is a networking grant of £18,000 (including matched funding from participating WUN-affiliated universities) from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund (WUN RDF). Date of award December 2016.

Paul is co-applicant on the following projects:

  • Developing an Evidence Base for an Educational Outcomes Framework. This is a project aimed at completing a realist evidence synthesis and exploiting routine data to identify the health education interventions for staff most likely to result in patient benefit. (Date of award March 2014); £547,000 over three years from the Department of Health for England.
  • Personalised Medicine through Learning in the Model Space. This project is aimed at developing new, model-based, approaches to machine learning to modelling and predicting health outcomes. (Date of award October 2013) £1.3M Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC).
  • Modelling the potential impact of weighting different elements within the student selection process. £57,000 over 12 months from the Medical Schools Council (MSC). Date of Award April 2016. 

Research group(s)

Supervision

Paul is interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas: quantitative research in the area of clinical education and workforce issues, as they relate to health services.

Publications

Full publications list

Book chapters

  • Tiffin P and Le Couteur A. Developmental Disorders- Chapter 8. In Seminars in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2nd Edition. Ed. Simon Gowers. Gaskell, London. 2005.
  • Tiffin P. Model Answers for Autumn 1999 Critical Review Paper. In Critical Reviews in Psychiatry, 3rd Edition. Eds. T. Brown and G.Wilkinson. Gaskell, London. 2005.
  • Tiffin P and Richardson, G. The use of Structured Instruments in Assessing Risk of Violence. In Children who Commit Acts of  Serious Interpersonal Violence – Messages for Practice’: Eds. Ann Hagell and Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006.
  • Tiffin, P.A. and Nadkarni, J. Evaluating Violence Risk in Young People. In; The Cambridge Handbook of Forensic Psychology. Eds. E. Campbell & J.Brown. 2010, pp166-176.
  • Tiffin, P.A. and Gagan, G.D. Psychotic Illness in Young People. In; Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for Psychiatrists in Pakistan. Ed. Khan, F. In Press.

Reports

  • Tiffin, P. A. and Kaplan, C. Dangerous children- their assessment and management: a case (2001). Department of Health Consultation Document.
  • Tiffin, P.A., Webster, L.A.D and McLachlan, J.C. Forecasting the impact of the mode of use of the UKCAT on the demographics of UK medical and dental entrants (2013). Prepared for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) Board. UKCAT Consortium, Nottingham, UK.
  • Tiffin, P.A. and Webster, L.A.D Influence of selection of UKCAT‘threshold’ and ‘factor’ weightings for medical applicants in the 2010 application round of applications (2013). Prepared for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) Board. UKCAT Consortium, Nottingham, UK.
  • Tiffin, P.A., Illing, J. Webster, L.A.D. and McLachlan, J.C. The validity of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam: Research report (2013). Prepared for the General Medical Council, London, UK. 
  • Tiffin, P.A. Understanding the Dimensionality and Reliability of the Cognitive Scales of the UK Clinical Aptitude test (UKCAT): Summary Version of the Report. December 2013. www.ukcat.ac.uk/our-research/published-research/
  • Tiffin, P.A. and Carter, M. Understanding the measurement model of the UKCAT Situational Judgment Test: Summary Report. May 2015. www.ukcat.ac.uk/our-research/published-research/

External activities

Memberships

  • Member of the UK Child Psychiatry Research Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Association for the Study of Medical Education
  • Member of the UKCAT Research Group
  • Member of the UKMED Research Group
  • Lead for the Developing and Researching the Economics and Mathematics of Selection (DREAMS) Network 

Invited talks and conferences

  • November 2015: Invited to facilitate workshop on Item Response Theory at the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME)

Contact details

Dr Paul Tiffin
Reader in Psychometric Epidemiology and NIHR Career Development Fellow

Tel: 01904 32(1117)

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