Improving Search Strategy for Identifying Urgent Conditions on the Chest X-ray


Currently, teaching X-ray interpretation to medical students is not standardized, and is generally not very effective.

Objective: The goal of our study is to evaluate whether directly teaching an expert search strategy for x-ray interpretation to 3d year medical students is effective.


- An expert's visual search strategy was recorded using a gaze-tracking device. The search strategy was then reproduced using a dynamic cursor moving across the corresponding chest x-ray, and incorporated into a teaching program accessible via the internet.

- Participants are 3rd year medical students who will be randomized into two groups. The experimental group will have access to the teaching program as described. The control group will have access to the same x-rays but not the expert's search strategy.

- At the end of the study period the investigators will collect performance data (the participants' accuracy at reading a series of chest x-rays) and process data (using gaze-tracking to evaluate the participants' search strategies); the experimental and control groups will be compared.

Expected results:

The investigators expect the group trained in expert search strategy to show improved accuracy at reading chest x-rays, and an improvement in their visual search strategy

Full Title of Study: “Improving Search Strategy for Identifying Urgent Conditions on the Chest X-ray. (Original Title in French: Améliorer la stratégie de Recherche et l’Identification Des Conditions Urgentes Sur Une Radiographie Pulmonaire: Impact de l’Utilisation d’un Logiciel Interactif de Lecture systématique)”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Masking: Single (Investigator)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: July 2013


  • Other: training in visual search strategy
  • Other: access to a library of chest x-rays without search strategy

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: trained visual search strategy
    • An expert’s visual search strategy for reading the chest x-ray was recorded using a gaze tracking device. This strategy was reproduced using a dynamic cursor and will be made available to participants in the experimental group using an interactive website.
  • Active Comparator: not trained in visual search strategy
    • Participants will learn to read chest x-rays by having access to a library of chest x-rays identical to the one used by the experimental arm, but without the search strategy.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Improvement in medical student’s visual search strategy at reading a chest x-ray
    • Time Frame: 2 months
    • participants enrolled in the experimental group will be trained to learn the expert’s search strategy for reading a chest x-ray. We hypothesize that by the end of the study period they will show an improved visual search strategy over students who were not trained in visual search but were taught through standard methods (interaction with clinician-educators during their clerkship rotations)

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • 3rd year medical students enrolled in medicine or surgery rotations during the planned study period

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: N/A

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Université de Montréal
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor

Clinical trials entries are delivered from the US National Institutes of Health and are not reviewed separately by this site. Please see the identifier information above for retrieving further details from the government database.

At, we keep tabs on over 200,000 clinical trials in the US and abroad, using medical data supplied directly by the US National Institutes of Health. Please see the About and Contact page for details.