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Open Access Research article

Do community medicine residency trainees learn through journal club? An experience from a developing country

Saima Akhund1 and Muhammad Masood Kadir2*

Author Affiliations

1 Human Development Programme, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

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BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:43  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-43

Published: 22 August 2006



Journal clubs are an internationally recognized teaching tool in many postgraduate medical education fields. In developing countries lack of funds for current print materials may have limited journal club use. But with advancing information technology trainees in developing countries increasingly have more access to high quality journals online. However, we are aware of no studies describing journal club existence and effectiveness in postgraduate medical training in Pakistan. Also we have found no published effectiveness studies of this teaching modality in Community Medicine (Public Health) in any country. This study evaluated the effectiveness of Community Medicine (Public Health) Resident Journal Club (CMR-JC) in Aga Khan University, Pakistan using international criteria for successful journal clubs (2 years continuous existence and more than 50% attendance) and examining resident and alumni satisfaction.


Journal club effectiveness criteria were searched using electronic search databases. Departmental records were reviewed from September1999–September 2005. Ninety percent of residents and alumni of Community Medicine Residency Programme participated voluntarily in a confidential survey.


The CMR-JC was regularly conducted. More than 95% of residents attended. (Total residents in the CMR-Programme: 32). Twenty-seven out of 29 current residents/alumni responded to the anonymous questionnaire. Acquisition of critical appraisal skills (23 respondents) and keeping up with current literature (18 respondents) were the two most important objectives achieved. Respondents recommended improved faculty participation and incorporating a structured checklist for article review.


CMR-JC fulfils criteria for effective journal clubs. Residents and alumni agree CMR-JC meets its objectives. Incorporating suggested recommendations will further improve standards. The journal club learning modality should be included in residency training programs in developing countries. Effective use of online resources to support journal clubs is demonstrated as a successful alternative to excessive expenditure for obtaining print journals. Those trying to start or improve journal clubs can benefit from our experience.