Role Delineation Study

The Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center begins the development of every certification examination with a role delineation study (RDS), also known as a job analysis. The RDS is a research project that is conducted when initially developing a certification program, and then repeated approximately every five years to ensure that a certification exam is based on current practice.

The objective of an RDS is to define a role in terms of the work behaviors necessary for practitioners to safely and effectively perform the role at a specified level of expertise. The RDS is guided by an advisory committee of subject matter experts who are representative and knowledgeable of the role to be studied. The RDS uses a survey method which verifies the major domains of practice and leading to the development of the content outline. The survey is pilot tested and then nationally disseminated to individuals in the hospice and palliative team serving in the role to be studied.

The advisory committee reviews the survey responses and using decision rules, determines the detailed content outline. Next, they decide the number of items (test questions) needed within each major domain of practice (i.e. knowledge area) on the outline to assess a reasonable sample of an examination candidate’s knowledge of the domain.

Items for the examination are then written respective to the test content outline. This chain of evidence is crucial for establishing content validity when building national examination. Every examination form developed and approved by the examination development committee will exactly match the test specifications to help ensure that all candidates have a fair opportunity to demonstrate their level of knowledge of the topics covered on the test content outline.

Download the most recent role delineation study executive summaries below.

The History of the Role Delineation Study

In 1998, the HPCC Board of Directors took a second major step and invested in a Role Delineation Study (RDS) to identify the responsibilities of hospice and palliative nurses and to incorporate this knowledge into the continuing development of the certification process. The RDS not only clarified the responsibilities of the hospice nurses but also verified that palliative nurses share many of the same responsibilities. This study formed the basis for expanding the certification exam to include both hospice and palliative nurses; the first such certification test was given in March 1999.

A nurse certified prior to 1999 was certified as a CRNH (Certified Registered Nurse Hospice). Those taking the test after 1/1/99 when palliative nursing was included are known as CHPN®s (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses). HPCC now provides specialty examinations for different levels of nursing: advanced practice nurses, registered nurses, pediatric registered nurses, and nursing assistants. There are currently over 18,000 certificants.

An RDS was done prior to the initiation of each new certification examination. The results of each was used to develop test specifications and examination contents. Industry standards recommend that an RDS is conducted every 5 years or so to determining any change in practice.

Role Delineation Studies