Is there a digital generation gap for e-learning in plastic surgery?

Roger Stevens, Neil M. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Some authors have claimed that those plastic surgeons born between 1965 and 1979 (Generation X, or Gen-X) are more technologically-able than those born between 1946 and 1964 (Baby Boomers, or BB). Those born after 1980, which comprise Generation Y (Gen-Y), might be the most technologically-able and most demanding for electronic learning (e-learning) to support their education and training in plastic surgery. These differences might represent a ‘digital generation gap’ and would have practical and financial implications for the development of e-learning.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to survey plastic surgeons on their experience and preferences in e-learning in plastic surgery and to establish whether there was a difference between different generations.
Design: Online survey (e-survey) of plastic surgeons within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Methods: Six-hundred and twenty-four plastic surgeons were invited by e-mail to complete an e-survey anonymously for their experience of e-learning in plastic surgery, whether they would like access to e-learning and if so, whether this should this be provided nationally, locally, or not at all. By stratifying plastic surgeons into three generations (BB, Gen-X and Gen-Y), the responses between generations were compared using the ¿2 test for linear trend. A p value < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.
Results: Of the 624 plastic surgeons contacted, 237 plastic surgeons completed the survey (response rate of 38%), but data from two surgeons were excluded. For the remaining 235 plastic surgeons, there was no evidence of statistically significant linear trends between by generation and either experience, access or provision of e-learning.
Conclusions: These findings refute the claim that there are differences in the experience of e-learning of plastic surgeons by generation. Furthermore, there is no evidence that there are differences in whether there should be access to e-learning and how e-learning should be provided for different generations of plastic surgeons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-349
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number3
Early online date16 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • plastic surgery
  • education
  • training
  • e-learning
  • survey
  • baby boomers
  • generation X
  • generation Y
  • medical knowledge
  • professionalism
  • practice based learning and improvement


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