INTRODUCTION: English is increasingly the medical lingua franca. We hypothesized that an intensive journal club model based on articles and questions from obstetrics and gynecology could improve written and spoken comprehension of medical English in a population of Chinese medical professionals.
METHODS: Participants took a three-part baseline examination (multiple choice, 15 questions), written (10-point scale) and oral (12-point scale), to assess medical English comprehension that was repeated at study conclusion. After baseline, students were randomized to either 1) an intensive treatment arm with 24 journal club sessions led by a U.S. medical student over the course of 8 weeks; or 2) a self-study group. Primary outcome measured was the change in score from baseline on the multiple choice examination, adapted from APGO uWISE examinations. Secondary outcomes included change in written and oral scores with grading scales used for respective TOEFL tests. The agreement between the two evaluators had weighted [kappa] scores ranging from 0.57 to 0.71 that are comparable to TOEFL [kappa] scores.
RESULTS: Both groups improved the mean number of correct multiple choice responses, but there was no statistically significant difference between groups (P=.16). Compared with self-study, however, an intensive journal club significantly improved written scores (mean change 3.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1-5.0, P=.003) and oral scores (mean change 1.9, 95% CI 0.1-3.8, P=.04).
CONCLUSIONS: Although reading journal articles improved the mean medical comprehension of both groups (13% and 7%, respectively), interacting with colleagues and an English-speaking facilitator in an intensive journal club environment may selectively improve both written and speaking capabilities.
(C) 2014 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.