Cytopathology Glossary: Evaluating Accessibility to Definitions of Descriptive Cytopathology Terms in Textbooks and Internet References Commonly Used by Pathology Residents
SM Share, NT Sherwood, JF Silverman, TC Pereira. Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Descriptive cytopathology terms are commonly encountered by pathology residents at departmental and national conferences, in the literature, and while signing out cases with attending pathologists. The meanings of these terms are often not self-evident. For proper understanding, a beginning pathology resident must then seek out the definitions in available reference textbooks or internet search engines/websites. Often a considerable amount of time is spent searching through multiple books and/or websites to find a certain term, if it can be found at all. In this study, we evaluated the accessibility to the definitions of many commonly used descriptive cytopathology terms in current cytopathology textbooks and internet sources to better determine if the educational needs of trainees are being met.
Design: 12 cytopathology references in total were evaluated including 9 commonly used cytopathology textbooks, and 3 well known internet search engines/websites. 89 descriptive cytopathology terms were searched for in the index and then cross-referenced to determine if the respective definition was present in the text. For internet sites, terms were entered into the search line and the definitions were obtained from following links to the first 20 hits. Percentages of the overall availability of terms present were calculated, as well as the percentage for each single reference.
Results: Of 89 pre-determined cytopathology term definitions, only 32.3% were available over the 12 references used in this study. When using strictly textbooks, 30.8% of the definitions were found. With internet searches, definitions were available 36.8% of the time. One internet search engine provided the highest overall availability with 67.4%. The highest accessibility percentage amongst a single textbook was 56.2%.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that residents must spend a significant amount of time searching the literature to access definitions of commonly used descriptive cytopathology terms. No single source contains a large majority of terms on our list. Although these terms are mentioned frequently in the literature and in practice, the true meaning may not be clear to the inexperienced trainee after consulting multiple sources. We believe there is an educational need for sources to more completely define the meaning of these commonly used descriptive cytopathology terms, many of which serve as a word picture to characterize cytologic findings.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:00 PM
Poster Session VI # 72, Wednesday Afternoon