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Online educational resources (OERs) are increasingly available for emergency medicine (EM) education. This study describes and compares the use of free OERs by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) EM residents and program directors (PDs) and investigates the relationship between the use of OERs and peer-reviewed literature.
A bilingual, online survey was distributed to RCPSC-EM residents and PDs using a modified Dillman method. The chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test were used to compare the responses of residents and PDs.
The survey was completed by 214/350 (61%) residents and 11/14 (79%) PDs. Free OERs were used by residents most frequently for general EM education (99.5%), procedural skills training (96%), and learning to interpret diagnostic tests (92%). OER modalities used most frequently included wikis (95%), file-sharing websites (95%), e-textbooks (94%), and podcasts (91%). Residents used wikis, podcasts, vodcasts, and file-sharing websites significantly more frequently than PDs. Relative to PDs, residents found entertainment value to be more important for choosing OERs (p<0.01). Some residents (23%) did not feel that literature references were important, whereas all PDs did. Both groups reported that OERs increased the amount of peer-reviewed literature (75% and 60%, respectively) that they read.
EM residents make extensive use of OERs and differ from their PDs in the importance that they place on their entertainment value and incorporation of peer-reviewed references. OERs may increase the use of peer-reviewed literature in both groups. Given the prevalence of OER use for core educational goals among RCPSC-EM trainees, future efforts to facilitate critical appraisal and appropriate resource selection are warranted.