Collaborative writing applications (CWAs), such as the Google DocsTM platform, can improve skill acquisition, knowledge retention, and collaboration in medical education. Using CWAs to support the training of residents offers many advantages, but stimulating them to contribute remains challenging. The purpose of this study was to identify emergency medicine (EM) residents’ beliefs about their intention to contribute summaries of landmark articles to a Google DocsTM slideshow while studying for their Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) certification exam.
Using the Theory of Planned Behavior, the authors interviewed graduating RCPSC EM residents about contributing to a slideshow. Residents were asked about behavioral beliefs (advantages/disadvantages), normative beliefs (positive/negative referents), and control beliefs (barriers/facilitators). Two reviewers independently performed qualitative content analysis of interview transcripts to identify salient beliefs in relation to the defined behaviors.
Of 150 eligible EM residents, 25 participated. The main reported advantage of contributing to the online slideshow was learning consolidation (n=15); the main reported disadvantage was information overload (n=3). The most frequently reported favorable referents were graduating EM residents writing the certification exam (n=16). Few participants (n=3) perceived any negative referents. The most frequently reported facilitator was peer-reviewed high-quality scientific information (n=9); and the most frequently reported barrier was time constraints (n=22).
Salient beliefs exist regarding EM residents’ intention to contribute content to an online collaborative writing project using a Google DocsTM slideshow. Overall, participants perceived more advantages than disadvantages to contributing and believed that this initiative would receive wide support. However, participants reported several barriers that need to be addressed to increase contributions. Our intention is for the beliefs identified in this study to contribute to the design of a theory-based questionnaire to explore determinants of residents' intentions to contribute to an online collaborative writing project. This will help develop implementation strategies for increasing contributions to other CWAs in medical education.