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The effect of case-based discussion of topics with experts on learners’ opinions: implications for spinal education and training



This investigation aimed to examine the extent to which case-based discussion with experts could influence the audience’s opinions on the treatment of patients during a continuing medical education event for spine surgeons.


We conducted a prospective controlled crossover study of 90 surgeons. During a continuing medical education activity using case-based discussion, quiz questions were used which asked participants (attendants and faculty group) their opinions on the best choices about diagnosis and treatment in a number of cases. No answer was considered correct, but we evaluated the number of participants choosing each specific answer among a number of valid options. Quiz questions were collected with an automated response system at the entry and at the end of each case discussion. Change in participant’s opinions was estimated from the change in the preferred answers between the entry and exit quizzes. Chi-square analysis was performed to determine significance.


Sixty-two attendants out of eighty three (75%) and six faculties out of twelve (50%) responded to the survey. After the case discussion, 68.2% (p < 0.04, Chi-square test) of the attendants changed their opinion on the appropriate treatment. The faculty answers, however, showed no significant change in opinions regarding the identification of the appropriate treatment.


On the basis of our results, case-based discussion driven by experts, as a form of teaching, has a measurable effect in terms of changes in the learners’ opinions.

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Correspondence to Jorge Hugo Villafañe.

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The authors of the paper have not received specific funding to perform the research. Private Universe provided a free trial of the Hubbler ARS service to the meeting. The third author is the CEO of Private Universe SA.

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Berjano, P., Villafañe, J.H., Vanacker, G. et al. The effect of case-based discussion of topics with experts on learners’ opinions: implications for spinal education and training. Eur Spine J 26, 2660–2665 (2017).

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  • Expert opinion
  • Outcomes evaluation
  • Spine
  • Continuing medical education
  • Postgraduate education
  • Automated response system
  • Information technology
  • Spine surgery