Poster5 - 07: PILOT STUDY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A SMARTPHONE APPLICATION FOR THE PREVENTION OF LEARNING DECAY AMONG SURGERY RESIDENTS
Rondi B Gelbard, MD1, Albert H Diehl, MD1, Mohammad R Jajja, MD1, Barbara J Pettitt, MD1, Keith A Delman, MD1, Paul J Schenarts, MD2; 1Emory University School of Medicine, 2University of Nebraska Medical Center
BACKGROUND: Learning decay in surgery is the concept that knowledge obtained during single rotations can be lost over time. Breast Surgery is a rotation where technical requirements are met by junior residents but knowledge must be retained over several years. We wanted to determine if brief repeated exposure to malignant breast disease (MBD) facts using a smartphone application prevented learning decay.
METHODS: Prospective, observational study of surgical residents at an academic teaching hospital. Residents were randomized to Group 1: exposure to breast information according to the SCORE-based didactic curriculum, or Group 2: exposed to supplemental education via a smartphone application we designed that provided twice daily facts from an MBD fact bank. Baseline and three follow-up assessments at four-month intervals evaluated differences in information retention.
RESULTS: Response rates to the baseline and follow-up assessments ranged from 34% (29/85) to 75.3% (55/73). 0-5 months were spent in Breast rotations. Mean interval since the most recent rotation was 16.3 ±14.5 months. Mean correct baseline responses were 52.1% ± 24.5 (50% ± 24.5 for juniors vs. 58% ± 26.7 for seniors). Group 1 junior residents (PGY 1-2) had no change in scores from baseline while Group 2 improved by 8% (p = 0.034) (Figure 1). This effect was not observed among senior residents. Comfort level managing MBD and confidence in knowledge of MBD was 2.29 and 2.33 vs. 2.4 and 2.54 in Groups 1 and 2, respectively (scale 0-3). 92% of Group 2 enjoyed having access to the app and would download it for other subjects, and 76.9% felt the app helped them retain information.
CONCLUSION: Repeated exposure to breast information using a smartphone application may be more effective than the standard general surgery curriculum in preventing learning decay among junior residents. While we did not have statistical power to show overt learning decay over one year, there was improvement in knowledge among junior residents with this passive learning tool. Participating residents perceived their educational experience as enhanced with the application.