Open Access Research article

eLearning among Canadian anesthesia residents: a survey of podcast use and content needs

Clyde T Matava12*, Derek Rosen23, Eric Siu4 and Dylan M Bould5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada

2 Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronito, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Department of Anesthesia, Toronto General Hospital, University Hospital Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

5 Department of Anesthesiology, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:59  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-59

Published: 23 April 2013



Podcasts are increasingly being used in medical education. In this study, we conducted a survey of Canadian anesthesia residents to better delineate the content needs, format preferences, and usage patterns among anesthesia residents.


10/16 Canadian anesthesia program directors, representing 443/659 Canadian anesthesia residents, allowed their residents to be included in the study. 169/659 (24%) residents responded to our survey. A 17-item survey tool developed by the investigators was distributed by email eliciting information on patterns of podcast use, preferred content, preferred format, and podcast adjuncts perceived to increase knowledge retention.


60% (91/151) had used medical podcasts with 67% of these users spending up to 1 hour per week on podcasts. 72.3% of respondents selected ‘ability to review materials whenever I want’ was selected by the majority of respondents (72%) as the reason they found podcasts to be valuable. No clear preference was shown for audio, video, or slidecast podcasts. Physiology (88%) and pharmacology (87%) were the most requested basic science topics while regional anesthesia (84%), intensive care (79%) and crisis resource management (86%) were the most requested for procedural, clinical and professional topics respectively. Respondents stated they would most likely view podcasts that contained procedural skills, journal article summaries and case presentations and that were between 5-15 minutes in duration A significantly greater proportion of senior residents (81%) requested podcasts on ‘pediatric anesthesia’ compared to junior residents 57% (P = 0.007).


The majority of respondents are using podcasts. Anesthesia residents have preferred podcast content, types, length and format that educators should be cognizant of when developing and providing podcasts.

Podcasts; Residents; e-learning; Survey; Needs; Content; Anesthesia