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Knowledge gaps in the diagnosis and management of patients with tropical diseases presenting to Canadian emergency departments: are the gaps being met?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2015

Nazanin Meshkat*
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto
Shikha Misra
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Cheryl Hunchak
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Paula Cleiman
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Yasmin Khan
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto
Lisa M. Puchalski Ritchie
Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University Health Network and University of Toronto
Correspondence to: Dr. Nazanin Meshkat, 200 Elizabeth Street, RFE-G-480, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4,


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We conducted a needs assessment to identify knowledge gaps in the management of tropical diseases by Canadian emergency physicians and identify available, related continuing medical education (CME) resources.


A literature review was conducted to summarize challenges in the management of commonly encountered tropical diseases. An anonymous online survey was administered to Canadian emergency physicians using the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians survey deployment service in July and August 2012. The survey identified self-reported gaps in knowledge and assessed knowledge using case-based vignettes. A list of CME resources was generated from a review of major academic emergency medicine journals, online cases, and conference topics from emergency medicine associations during 2010– 2011. Two independent reviewers assessed the relevance of the resources; differences were resolved by consensus.


From 635 citations, 47 articles were selected for full review; the majority (66%) were retrospective chart reviews, few (10.6%) had an emergency medicine focus, and fewer still were Canadian (8.5%). In total, 1,128 surveys were distributed, and 296 (27%) participants were included in the study. Most respondents reported ‘‘no’’ (52.4%) or ‘‘some’’ (45.9%) training in tropical medicine. Most (69.9%) rated their comfort in managing patients with tropical diseases as ‘‘low.’’ Few (11.1%) respondents reported a tropical disease being misdiagnosed or mismanaged; 44.1% indicated malaria. The perceived need for further training was high (76.7%). Conference workshops were the most highly requested CME modality, followed by case studies and podcasts. Correct answers to case vignettes ranged from 30.7 to 58.4%. Although 2,038 CME titles were extracted from extensive searches, only 6 were deemed relevant.


Most Canadian emergency physicians have had minimal training in tropical diseases, reported a low comfort level in their management, and identified a high need for CME opportunities, which are lacking.

Original Research • Recherche Originale
Copyright © Copyright © Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians 2014



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