Background: Pre-analytical variables in clinical chemistry are factors prior to the biochemical analysis of samples affecting laboratory test results accounting for 32-75% of errors leading to misdiagnosis, decreased quality of medical care services and wastage of monetary resources. Aim: To educate first year medical undergraduates about pre-analytical variables through case based discussion and lecture method of teaching and assess the gain in knowledge by these methods. Methods and material: Two batches of medical students namely A (N=50) and B (N=52) were assessed for their background knowledge on the topic using an MCQ based questionnaire (pre-test). Batch A and B were taught through didactic lecture and case based discussion respectively. Post-test questionnaire was conducted to test the gain in knowledge of both batches. Delayed post-test was conducted after 2 weeks to assess retention of knowledge amongst students. Results: Pre-test scores of Batch A and B were not significantly different indicating that both batches had similar background knowledge of topic. Post-test scores vs. pre-test scores were significantly higher in both batches implying that both batches benefitted from their respective teaching sessions. But post-test score of Batch B was significantly higher than that of Batch A indicating higher gain of knowledge through case based discussion. Delayed post-test score was also significantly higher in Batch B vs. A implying better retention of knowledge through case based discussions. Conclusion: Topic ‘Pre-analytical variables in clinical chemistry’ must be included in undergraduate medical curriculum. Case based discussion could be an effective module for teaching the same.
Key words: Case based discussion; Didactic lecture; Medical students; Medical education; Pre-analytical variables.