The educational impact of weekly e-mailed fast facts and concepts

J Palliat Med. 2011 Apr;14(4):475-81. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2010.0418. Epub 2011 Mar 12.


Purpose: Educational interventions such as electives, didactics, and Web-based teaching have been shown to improve residents' knowledge, attitudes, and skills. However, integrating curricular innovations into residency training is difficult due to limited time, faculty, and cost. In this study, the authors assessed the educational impact of weekly Fast Facts and Concept (FFAC) e-mails on residents' knowledge of palliative care topics, self-reported preparedness in palliative care skills, and satisfaction with palliative care education.

Method: Internal medicine interns at the University of Pittsburgh and Medical College of Wisconsin were randomized to control and intervention groups in July 2009. Pretests and posttests assessed medical knowledge through 24 multiple choice questions, preparedness on 14 skills via a 4-point Likert scale and satisfaction based on ranking of education quality. The intervention group received 32 weekly e-mails.

Results: The study group included 82 interns with a pretest response rate of 100% and posttest response rate of 70%. The intervention group showed greater improvement in knowledge than the control (18% increase compared to 8% in the control group, p = 0.005). Preparedness in symptom management skills (converting between opioids, differentiating types of pain, treating nausea) improved in the intervention group more than the control group (p = 0.04, 0.01, and 0.02, respectively). There were no differences in preparedness in communication skills or satisfaction between the control and intervention groups.

Conclusions: E-mailed FFAC are an educational intervention that increases intern medical knowledge and self-reported preparedness in symptom management skills but not preparedness in communication skills or satisfaction with palliative care education.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Mail*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Palliative Care
  • Teaching*
  • Wisconsin