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BMC Med Educ. 2013 Dec 1;13:156. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-13-156.

Content analysis of medical students' seminars: a unique method of analyzing clinical thinking.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA.



The study of communication skills of Asian medical students during structured Problem-based Learning (PBL) seminars represented a unique opportunity to assess their critical thinking development. This study reports the first application of the health education technology, content analysis (CA), to a Japanese web-based seminar (webinar).


The authors assigned twelve randomly selected medical students from two universities and two clinical instructors to two virtual classrooms for four PBL structured tutoring sessions that were audio-video captured for CA. Both of the instructors were US-trained physicians. This analysis consisted of coding the students' verbal comments into seven types, ranging from trivial to advanced knowledge integration comments that served as a proxy for clinical thinking.


The most basic level of verbal simple responses accounted for a majority (85%) of the total students' verbal comments. Only 15% of the students' comments represented more advanced types of critical thinking. The male students responded more than the female students; male students attending University 2 responded more than male students from University 1. The total mean students' verbal response time for the four sessions with the male instructor was 6.9%; total mean students' verbal response time for the four sessions with the female instructor was 19% (p < 0.05).


This report is the first to describe the application of CA to a multi-university real time audio and video PBL medical student clinical training webinar in two Japanese medical schools. These results are preliminary, mostly limited by a small sample size (n = 12) and limited time frame (four sessions). CA technology has the potential to improve clinical thinking for medical students. This report may stimulate improvements for implementation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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