Learning the Thyroid Examination-A Multimodality Intervention for Internal Medicine Residents
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BACKGROUND: Many physicians have inadequate physical diagnosis skills and cannot detect thyroid abnormalities on physical examination. PURPOSE: To evaluate a multimodality intervention to improve thyroid examination skills using a prospective controlled trial in first-year residents enrolled in an academic internal medicine program. METHODS: The intervention group received a 60-minute educational session during which an endocrinologist described anatomical landmarks, thyroid abnormalities, and examination techniques using a slide show, computerized animation, videotape, and live demonstration on a volunteer with goiter. Residents examined a normal and a goitrous thyroid under the observation of a preceptor and received an evidence-based handout on the thyroid examination. The control group received no specific intervention. Examination technique and identification of thyroid abnormalities were blindly assessed in 2 stations of an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). RESULTS: Of the 19 residents in the intervention group and the 20 in the control group, 6 (32%) and 3 (15%), respectively, observed the neck for thyroid abnormalities (P = 0.3), 17 (90%) and 16 (80%) used proper hand position (P = 0.7), and 13 (68%) and 15 (75%) had the patient swallow while the neck was palpated (P = 0.7). There was a significant difference in the mean scores based on thyroid physical findings during the OSCE between the intervention and control groups (100 vs. 52.5 [maximal possible score = 200], P = 0.047). CONCLUSION: A 1-hour multimodality learning session furthered the ability of first-year internal medicine residents to detect thyroid abnormalities.
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