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Podcasting on the Way to Work – Does It Work?

June 4, 2021

Written by Aaron Lacy

Spoon Feed
Emergency medicine residents had no change in performance on both initial and delayed recall tests based on podcast material listened to undistracted versus driving.

Why does this matter?
To say emergency medicine residents work a lot would be an understatement. Residents are held to a high standard and are expected to work large volumes of clinical hours while also continuing to study and learn outside of work. To save time, many residents listen to podcasts while commuting – but is this an effective way to learn?

Jamming to some CME
90% of emergency medicine residents report listening to podcasts on a regular basis, and nearly three quarters of them listen to podcasts while driving. To compare recall of knowledge from a podcast listened to while distracted (driving) versus undistracted (sitting in a quiet room), researchers included 100 PGY1-4 residents in a multicenter, randomized, crossover trial. Residents were randomized to either group, listening to a 30-minute podcast while driving or sitting. Within 30 minutes of listening, the residents took a 20-question multiple choice test based on the material. They then crossed over to the other intervention, listening to another 30-minute podcast on different material, again completing an immediate recall multiple choice test. One month later, 96 residents completed a 40-question multiple choice test with new questions based on the information in the podcast.

There was no statistically significant difference between the driving and undistracted cohorts on the initial recall (74.2% versus 73.3%) or delayed recall (52.2% versus 52.0%). Most importantly, there were no accidents that occurred during the driving period of the study. This is consistent with our current knowledge on adult learning theory, and it seems to confirm that while performing non-cognitively overlapping activities, and activities that are relatively automatic (driving, walking, etc.), residents are still able to learn.

Another Spoonful
If only there was a high yield podcast available covering the most recent and important articles in emergency and critical care medicine you could listen to while commuting… Check out the Journal Feed Podcast here!

Maximizing the Morning Commute: A Randomized Trial Assessing the Effect of Driving on Podcast Knowledge Acquisition and Retention. Ann Emerg Med. 2021 Apr 27;S0196-0644(21)00162-1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2021.02.030. Online ahead of print.

What are your thoughts?