Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research article
Performance of the BMJ learning training modules for ECG interpretation in athletes
  1. Nathan R Riding1,
  2. Jonathan A Drezner2
  1. 1 Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  2. 2 Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jonathan A Drezner, Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; jdrezner{at}


To assess the accuracy of interpreting the athlete’s ECG both pre and post a series of online training modules among a range of healthcare professionals. 10 512 healthcare professionals from 138 different nations commenced the online course. These were primarily doctors (43%), nurses (18.4%) and other healthcare professionals (3.9%). The users came from 102 different specialities, with General Practice/Family Medicine (24.5%), Cardiology (10.6%), Emergency Medicine (8.7%) and Sports Medicine (6.6%) predominating. Among the 2023 users who completed both the pre-course and post-course test, there was an overall improvement of 15.3% (95% CI 13.9% to 16.6%; p<0.001). 930 completed all four other modules, and these users fared significantly better (18.7% increase; 95% CI 17.3 to 20.0) than those completing no additional modules (11.7% increase; 95% CI 3.3 to 17.7, p=0.036). Demographic analysis showed that while the starting pre-test scores varied significantly between profession/specialty groups (57.8%–82.6%), post-test scores were largely consistent (80.8%–84.6%). Although users showed the most improvement when interpreting primary electrical diseases (12.4% increase), it was also an area of notable weakness compared with the modules of normal training-related findings and cardiomyopathies. With the evolving criteria for ECG interpretation eliciting ever improving levels of specificity and sensitivity in the detection of conditions associated with sudden cardiac death among athletes, training is required to ensure the infrastructure and personnel is in place to uphold these standards. The BMJ Learning course presented is a valuable first step and demonstrates that such an online tool can be effective in aiding ECG interpretation among healthcare professionals globally.

  • ECG/electrocardiogram
  • Ehealth/telemedicine/mobile health
  • competency evaluation
  • educational goals and objectives

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors NRR and JAD made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work and/or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data for the work; drafting the work, revising it critically for important intellectual content and final approval of the version to be published; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.