Researchers Develop E-learning Resource for Electrolyte and Acid-base Disorders

Researchers developed a Web-based tool that provides instruction and hands-on practice in managing electrolyte and acid-base disorders.

Electrolyte disorders such as hyponatremia and acid-base disorders are common clinical problems. They can also be life threatening, but despite that danger, it is an area that students and clinicians find difficult to master due to its highly integrative and quantitative nature.

Recently, however, researchers developed and evaluated a Web-based tool that provides instruction and hands-on practice in managing these disorders. Details of the research were recently published in Advances in Physiology Education; the e-learning application can be freely accessed.

The research was conducted by South African and Canadian researchers headed by M.R. Davids, MD, of the division of nephrology and department of medicine at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

The tool was tested at two academic departments of medicine in South Africa with 10 residents and six specialists in internal medicine, nephrology, and endocrinology. The researchers felt this group was typical of their target user population because their disciplines involve the management of electrolyte and acid-base disorders.

Researchers measured user satisfaction via a questionnaire based on the System Usability Scale (SUS); the users’ scores could range from 0 to 100, with a score of 70 or greater regarded as acceptable.

When the results were tallied, the mean score was 78.4 ± 13.8 (range: 45—100), and there were no differences between senior (specialists, n = 6) and more junior (residents, n = 10) colleagues. Mean scores were 82.1 ± 10.5 and 76.3 ± 15.6 (P = 0.477) in these two groups, respectively.

“On analysis of individual questionnaire items, senior clinicians expressed a greater degree of confidence in using the application (P = 0.037), but there were no other differences between the two groups,” the authors wrote in the study.

“Participants rated the content as being scientifically sound (15 of 16 participants agreed); they liked the clinical detective story approach (14 of 16 participants), the emphasis on key concepts (14 of 16 participants), and felt that these concepts were conveyed clearly (14 of 16 participants). They indicated that the application held their interest (14 of 16 participants), that it increased their understanding of the topic (14 of 16 participants), and that they would recommend this learning resource to others (15 of 16 participants).”

Study participants considered the application suitable for residents, subspecialty trainees, specialists, and medical students, but not for nursing students. “Of the three participants who indicated that their level of computer literacy was weak, none found the application difficult to use,” the researchers wrote.

SourceDevelopment and Evaluation of a Multimedia E-learning Resource for Electrolyte and Acid-base Disorders [Advances in Physiology Education]