Objectives Journal club, a century old tradition, is “an educational meeting, with a true purpose of acquiring, disseminating, and applying new research information”. Most Journal club didactics are also used to teach evidence based medicine skills such as critical appraisal. Virtual Journal clubs have been used increasingly to teach evidence based medicine skills. We aimed to assess the usability of a novel Virtual Journal club platform to 1) asses its feasibility in conducting complete life cycle of a Journal club 2) assignment and completion of critical appraisal of articles by students through an interactive article reading tool 3) provide didactic training of evidence based medicine through built in online curriculum 4) obtain users’ feedback on the features and potential implementation for our traditional journal club in a virtual environment
Method A Virtual Journal club hosted at www.JournalClub.net. was implemented in a large medical school setting. Faculty and medical students were invited for pilot testing with subsequent training on application use. Virtual Journal club platform had various integrated modules: Create/host/assign articles, interactive article reader/appraiser, EBM calculator, webinar, automated article summary generation, slides, faculty’s feedback, forum creation/discussion, and web archives of Journal club. Faculty members created a library of pre appraised landmark articles to assign to the students for Journal club presentation. All users were assigned and required to read, appraise and present the article through built in webinar on assigned date. A video archive of webinar and presentation slides were recorded and saved. A post study survey was conducted to collect users’ feedback about the e learning platform of Journal club, features’ related input and its potential for future use in teaching evidence based medicine.
Results Beta testing of Virtual Journal club platform at a large medical school and a residency program was conducted to assess the usability and flow of a typical journal club over few months. Preliminary usability data supports the benefits of virtual Journal club in promoting scholarly activities among students, residents and faculty. Particularly, Interactive simulation based guided critical appraisal questions to critically appraise literature was found very helpful in assessing quality of the evidence of an article. A built -in EBM calculator, automated slides presentation generation and automated article summary generation helped in saving time for most learners for Journal club presentations. Faculty also found streamlined workflow to assign, monitor and disseminate EBM teaching through faculty’s pre appraised landmark articles for teaching EBM skills to be very helpful. A built in quiz and survey tool provided both summative and formative assessment of learning outcomes of EBM teaching.
Conclusions This pilot study showed that Virtual Journal club and built in pre appraised landmark trials by specialty provided a much needed e-learning curriculum for EBM teaching for administrative convenience. In particular, an organized framework for appraising articles made it easier for learners to appraise articles with interactive guided critical appraisal questions. Learners agreed to use Virtual journal club platform in future if available. We plan to design a randomized clinical trial to further assess the effectiveness of Virtual journal club in teaching EBM skills along with mobile app development. In summary, our study showed that Virtual Journal club with built in interactive reader using targeted questions and a group debrief led to better understanding of the evidence and its clinical applicability. The COVID-19 pandemic may be a better time than ever to explore innovative ways to teach evidence-based medicine in medical school and residency training.
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