Objective: To investigate whether a limited teaching intervention, based on principles of adult education, could change residents' literature reading attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge.
Design: The educational intervention supplemented an ongoing bimonthly journal club. The effects on residents were studied prospectively before and four months following the intervention.
Setting: A community hospital internal medicine training program.
Participants: All 14 residents: six in the first year, and four each in the second and third years of training.
Intervention: A one-hour seminar incorporating principles of adult education, including the use of multiple teaching modalities. The content was based on the critical literature reading guidelines published by the McMaster group. Reinforcement of learning objectives was achieved by learner participation, written assignments, active feedback, and follow-up in subsequent journal clubs.
Results: Residents improved their performances on objective testing of critical appraisal knowledge by 60% (p = 0.02). They reported improved ability to appraise original research articles critically (p = 0.01) and reported spending more useful time reading. Unaffected were the total time spent reading journals, the reasons for reading them, and the perceived value of journals in "keeping up" with advances in medical knowledge.
Conclusion: Journal clubs are important to residents, and their effectiveness in teaching critical appraisal and promoting reading of the literature may be augmented by applying principles of adult education.