A comparison of the clinical pharmacotherapy knowledge of medical and surgical residents and consultants

Floor van den Hanenberg*, Ekin Ozturk, Mariska van Haastrecht, Jelle Tichelaar, Harry van Goor, Michiel A. van Agtmael, Carolina J. P. W. Keijsers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Knowledge of clinical pharmacotherapy is essential for all who prescribe medication. The aims of this study were to investigate differences in the pharmacotherapy and polypharmacy knowledge of medical and surgical residents and consultants and whether this knowledge can be improved by following an online course. Methods: Design: A before-and-after-measurement. Setting: An online course available for Dutch residents and consultants working in hospitals. Study population: Dutch residents and consultants from different disciplines who voluntarily followed an online course on geriatric care. Intervention: An online 6-week course on geriatric care, with 1 week dedicated to clinical pharmacotherapy and polypharmacy. Variables, such as medical vs surgical specialty, consultant vs resident, age, and sex, that could predict the level of knowledge. The effects of the online course were studied using repeated measures ANOVA. The study was approved by the National Ethics Review Board of Medical Education (NERB dossier number 996). Results: A total of 394 residents and 270 consultants, 220 from surgical and 444 from medical specialties, completed the online course in 2016 and 2017. Residents had higher test scores than consultants for pharmacotherapy (73% vs 70%, p < 0.02) and polypharmacy (75% vs 72%, p < 0.02). The learning effect did not differ. Medical residents/consultants had a better knowledge of pharmacotherapy (74% vs 68%, p < 0.001) and polypharmacy (77% vs 66%, p < 0.001) than surgical residents/consultants, but the learning effect was the same. Conclusions: Residents and consultants had a similar learning curve for acquiring knowledge, but residents outperformed consultants on all measures. In addition, surgical and medical residents/consultants had similar learning curves, but medical residents/consultants had higher test scores on all measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-677
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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