Bioterrorism training in U.S. emergency medicine residencies: has it changed since 9/11

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Bioterrorism; Cross-Sectional Studies; Curriculum; Emergency Medicine; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Humans; Internship and Residency; *September 11 Terrorist Attacks; Teaching; United States


Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


OBJECTIVES: To assess the change in prevalence of bioterrorism training among emergency medicine (EM) residencies from 1998 to 2005, to characterize current training, and to identify characteristics of programs that have implemented more intensive training methods.

METHODS: This was a national cross sectional survey of the 133 U.S. EM residencies participating in the 2005 National Resident Matching Program; comparison with a baseline survey from 1998 was performed. Types of training provided were assessed, and programs using experiential methods were identified.

RESULTS: Of 112 programs (84.2%) responding, 98% reported formal training in bioterrorism, increased from 53% (40/76) responding in 1998. In 2005, most programs with bioterrorism training (65%) used at least three methods of instruction, mostly lectures (95%) and disaster drills (80%). Fewer programs used experiential methods such as field exercises or bioterrorism-specific rotations (35% and 13%, respectively). Compared with other programs, residency programs with more complex, experiential methods were more likely to teach bioterrorism-related topics at least twice a year (83% vs. 59%; p = 0.018), to teach at least three topics (60% vs. 40%; p = 0.02), and to report funding for bioterrorism research and education (74% vs. 45%; p = 0.007). Experiential and nonexperiential programs were similar in program type (university or nonuniversity), length of program, number of residents, geographic location, and urban or rural setting.

CONCLUSIONS: Training of EM residents in bioterrorism preparedness has increased markedly since 1998. However, training is often of low intensity, relying mainly on nonexperiential instruction such as lectures. Although current recommendations are that training in bioterrorism include experiential learning experiences, the authors found the rate of these experiences to be low.

DOI of Published Version



Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Mar;14(3):221-7. Epub 2007 Jan 30. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

PubMed ID


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Link to Article in PubMed