Background: Although personal digital assistant use among residents is common, few outcomes-based studies have examined the impact of this technology on medical education. Aims: We evaluated the educational effectiveness of a personal digital assistant-based geriatric assessment tool. Methods: Internal medicine residents were enrolled as subjects. Personal digital assistant users were randomly assigned to receive or not receive a geriatric assessment tool for use on their device. Outcome measures included pretest/posttest performance and tabulation of geriatric functional issues on hospital dismissal summaries. Results: Seventy-two residents participated. Of these, 38 (53%) reported personal digital assistant use. Twenty were assigned to receive the geriatric assessment tool. Average change between pretest and posttest scores was highest for the group using the geriatric assessment tool on a personal digital assistant (2.8, P=0.01). This group also had the highest average posttest score and the highest average number of geriatric functional issues identified on dismissal summaries, but neither value was significantly different from respective averages for the other study groups. Conclusions: Residents who used a personal digital assistant-based geriatric assessment tool demonstrated greater improvement in geriatric knowledge than peers who did not use this resource. Curricula adapted to this technology may prove useful in medical education.
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