Context To compare family physicians' ability to retain information when reading
a review article on paper vs on screen, and in their mother tongue vs in English.
Methods Randomized trial of 114 Scandinavian family physicians who read a review
article in October or November 2000 from the Journal of
Trauma for 10 minutes either on paper and in English, on screen and
in English, on paper in their mother tongue, or on screen in their mother
tongue. To assess comprehension, they immediately completed a questionnaire
with 6 open questions about 13 key facts from the review article. Sum score
was on a scale from 0 (no correct answers) to 13 points (all questions answered
Results There was no significant difference between readers of paper vs screen
versions, with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) of 4 (2-6) vs 4 (2-5),
respectively (P = .97). Physicians who read in their
mother tongue scored significantly higher than those who read in English,
with a median (IQR) of 4 (3-6) vs 3 (2-4) (P = .01).
Conclusion The medium (paper vs screen) did not influence the ability of family
physicians to retain medical information. They best retained medical information
when reading in their mother tongue.