Education about substance use disorders in medical schools and, subsequently, physicians’ identification of and intervention in these diagnoses lag behind that of most other disabling disorders. To reduce barriers and improve access to education about this major public health concern, medical schools are increasingly adopting web-based instruction on substance use and other psychiatric disorders as part of their curricula; however, it is not well known how a web-streamed lecture compares with a traditional one. The authors hypothesized that both these formats would be equally efficacious in terms of knowledge acquisition and student satisfaction.
Authors conducted a prospective study to test this hypothesis among third-year medical students who received web-streamed lecture on substance use/addiction versus those who received a traditional live lecture.
Of the 243 students, significantly more students completed the on-line lecture series. Of the 216 students in the final study sample, 130 (60%) were assigned to the web-streamed lecture and 86 (40%) to the live lecture. Within-subject comparisons of pre- and post-lecture scores for the entire cohort indicated a significant improvement in the percentage of correct answers (21.0% difference). Although no differences in improved scores between the two groups were found, students in the live-lecture group reported small, but significantly higher levels of satisfaction.
This preliminary work supports the hypothesis that a web-streamed lecture can be at least equally efficacious as a traditional lecture in terms of knowledge acquisition. However, attention needs to be paid to the lower satisfaction levels associated with using the web-streamed format.