Background: Over the past few years, podcasts have become an increasingly popular modality for education in Emergency Medicine.  Surveys of EM residents have shown that residents are spending a larger amount of time listening to podcasts, especially as compared to traditional educational materials like textbooks and journals.  But despite their popularity, little is known about consumption habits, optimal podcast preferences, and motivation for listening.

What We Did:

  • Created a 20 question survey and emailed it to EM residents at all levels of training across 12 residencies in the United States to explore habits, attention, and motivation


  • 605 residents invited to participate
    • 356 (60.3%) residents completed the survey
  • Mean Number of Podcasts Listened to by Residents = 2.69
  • Two Most Popular Podcasts:
    • EM:RAP = 77.8%
    • EMCrit = 62.1%
  • Listening Habits:
    • Most use Smartphones = 91.4%
    • Most listen at 1x Speed = 78.0%
  • Ideal Length of Time for Podcasts:

  • Stop Listening to Podcasts Because:
    • Too boring = 57.9%
    • Not “high quality” = 57.9%
    • Too long = 55.2%
  • Motivation to Listen:

  • Change in Clinical Practice Due to Podcasts (“Somewhat” or “Very Much”) = 72.2%


  • Survey was pilot-tested for revision, clarity, and relevance before being distributed
  • Survey designed to be completed in less than 10 minutes
  • Respondents were generally similar demographically to non-respondents
  • Programs included in study represented all allopathic EM programs pretty well (with the exception of the Midwest region, mentioned below)


  • This is a small sample size of only 12 residency programs with a relatively low response rate of 60% – this may limit the survey’s generalizability
  • The Midwest region is underrepresented in our sample
  • Due to categorical response options, parametric statistics to compare groups was not feasible
  • As a survey of only EM residents, it limits generalizability to specialties outside of EM


  • Almost ¾ of residents listen to podcasts for core content, however the most popular podcasts for core content were only listened to regularly by 29.2% (EM Basic) and 18.0% (FOAMcast) of residents.
  • Although the majority of residents prefer podcasts of <30 minutes duration, there is no direct evidence that links shorter podcasts to better resident retention of information.

Author Conclusion: “The results of this survey study suggest most residents listen to podcasts at least once a month, prefer podcasts less than 30 minutes in length, have several motivations for choosing podcasts, and report that podcasts change their clinical practice.”

Take Home Point: The podcasting phenomenon in EM is certainly here, and based on this survey some descriptive statements can be made:

  1. Ideal podcast length preference seems to be ≤30 minutes
  2. More podcasts covering core content are needed or better publicity for those that are currently doing it
  3. Podcasts affect clinical practice in the majority of listeners


  1. Riddell J et al. A Survey of Emergency Medicine Residents’ Use of Educational Podcasts. WJEM 2017; 18(2): 1 – 6. [epub ahead of print]

Want to Learn More About Podcasting:

Register for The Podcasting Course

Post Peer Reviewed By Lead Author: Jeff Riddell (Twitter: @Jeff__Riddell)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *