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A Fork in the Road for Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Blogs and Podcasts: Cross-sectional Study

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Free open-access meducation (FOAM) refers to open-access, web-based learning resources in medicine. It includes all formats of digital products, including blogs and podcasts. The number of FOAM blog and podcast sites in emergency medicine and critical care increased dramatically from 2002 to 2013, and physicians began to rely on the availability of these resources. The current landscape of these FOAM sites is unknown.


This study aims to (1) estimate the current number of active, open-access blogs and podcasts in emergency medicine and critical care and (2) describe observed and anticipated trends in the FOAM movement using the Theory of Disruptive Innovation by Christensen as a theoretical framework.


The authors used multiple resources and sampling strategies to identify active, open-access blogs and podcasts between April 25, 2022, and May 8, 2022, and classified these websites as blogs, podcasts, or blogs+podcasts. For each category, they reported the following outcome measures using descriptive statistics: age, funding, affiliations, and team composition. Based on these findings, the authors projected trends in the number of active sites using a positivist paradigm and the Theory of Disruptive Innovation as a theoretical framework.


The authors identified 109 emergency medicine and critical care websites, which comprised 45.9% (n=50) blogs, 22.9% (n=25) podcasts, and 31.2% (n=34) blogs+podcasts. Ages ranged from 0 to 18 years; 27.5% (n=30) sold products, 18.3% (n=20) used advertisements, 44.0% (n=48) had institutional funding, and 27.5% (n=30) had no affiliation or external funding sources. Team sizes ranged from 1 (n=26, 23.9%) to ≥5 (n=60, 55%) individuals.


There was a sharp decline in the number of emergency medicine and critical care blogs and podcasts in the last decade, dropping 40.4% since 2013. The initial growth of FOAM and its subsequent downturn align with principles in the Theory of Disruptive Innovation by Christensen. These findings have important implications for the field of medical education.

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