Background: The long-term effect of problem-based learning (PBL) on factual knowledge is poorly investigated. We took advantage of a previous randomised comparison between PBL and traditional teaching in a 3rd year course to follow up factual knowledge of the students during their 4 th and 5th year of medical school training. Methods: 3rd year medical students were initially randomized to participate in a problem-based (PBL, n = 55), or a lecture-based (LBL, n = 57) course in basic pharmacology. Summative exam results were monitored 18 months later (after finishing a lecture-based course in clinical pharmacology). Additional results of an unscheduled, formative exam were obtained 27 months after completion of the first course. Results: Of the initial sample of 112 students, 90 participated in the second course and exam (n = 45, 45). 32 (n = 17 PBL, n = 15 LBL) could be exposed to the third, formative exam. Mean scores (▒ SD) were 22.4 ▒ 6.0, 27.4 ▒ 4.9 and 20.1 ▒ 5.0 (PBL), or 22.2 ▒ 6.0, 28.4 ▒ 5.1 and 19.0 ▒ 4.7 (LBL) in the first, second and third test, respectively (maximum score: 40). No significant differences were found between the two groups. Conclusion: A small-scale exposure to PBL, applied under randomized conditions but in the context of a traditional curriculum, does not sizeably change long-term presence of factual knowledge within the same discipline.
2003. Vol. 3