Rethinking Radiology: An Active Learning Curriculum for Head Computed Tomography Interpretation
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rethinking Radiology: An Active Learning Curriculum for Head Computed Tomography Interpretation

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Introduction: Head computed tomography (CT) interpretation is a vital skill for emergency physicians. Existing literature shows poor concordance between emergency physicians and radiologists in head CT interpretation. Prior studies have used passive learning methods to address this knowledge gap. We created an active learning curriculum for teaching head CT interpretation to emergency medicine (EM) residents and compared its effectiveness to a passive learning strategy. 

Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized controlled study of EM residents at a single institution. Three educational sessions were delivered over a three-month period via video conference. The active learning cohort (ALC) scrolled through head CT teaching cases we designed on Pascbin, a web-based radiology picture archiving and communication system. The passive learning cohort (PLC) watched instructional videos that scrolled through the same cases. Both cohorts were given equal time to review the cases and ask an instructor questions. Residents took pre-intervention and post-intervention tests on head CT interpretation. We analyzed scores using paired and unpaired t-tests.

Results: Forty-two residents took the pre-intervention test.  Mean pre- and post-test scores for the ALC were 43.8% and 59.0% (P <0.001), and for the PLC were 41.7% and 45.3% (P = 0.29). The difference in ALC and PLC post-test scores was statistically significant (P = 0.009) with a large effect size (Cohen’s d = 1.34). 

Conclusion: Our active learning head CT curriculum using Pacsbin showed superior learning outcomes when compared to a passive learning strategy and required no additional time or resources. This intervention offers a more effective and learner-centric method for implementing radiology curricula in EM residency programs.

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