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Learning at a distance: results of an international survey on the adoption of virtual conferences and whole slide imaging by pathologists
  1. Thiyaphat Laohawetwanit1,
  2. Raul S Gonzalez2,
  3. Andrey Bychkov3
  1. 1Division of Pathology, Chulabhorn International College of Medicine, Thammasat University, Pathum Thani, Thailand
  2. 2Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Kameda Medical Center, Kamogawa, Chiba, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrey Bychkov, Department of Pathology, Kameda Medical Center, Kamogawa, Chiba, Japan; bychkov.andrey{at}


Aims This study presents the findings of a global survey of pathologists’ views of online conferences and digital pathology.

Methods An online anonymous survey consisting of 11 questions focusing on pathologists’ perceptions of virtual conferences and digital slides was distributed to practising pathologists and trainees across the globe using the authors’ social media accounts and professional society connections. Participants were asked to rank their preference for various aspects of pathology meetings on a 5-point Likert scale.

Results There were 562 respondents from 79 countries. Several advantages of virtual meetings were recognised, including that they are less expensive to attend than in-person meetings (mean 4.4), more convenient to attend remotely (mean 4.3) and more efficient due to no loss of time for travel (mean 4.3). The lack of networking was reported as the main disadvantage of virtual conferences (mean 4.0). Most respondents (n=450, 80.1%) preferred hybrid or virtual meetings. About two-thirds (n=356, 63.3%) had no concern regarding the use of virtual slides for educational purposes and viewed them as an acceptable substitute for glass slides.

Conclusions Online meetings and whole slide imaging are viewed as valuable tools in pathology education. Virtual conferences allow affordable registration fees and flexibility for participants. However, networking opportunities are limited, meaning in-person meetings cannot be entirely replaced by virtual conferences. Hybrid meetings may be a solution to maximise the benefits of both virtual and in-person meetings.

  • Pathology, Surgical

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Twitter @RaulSGonzalezMD

  • Contributors TL: design, data acquisition, formal analysis, investigation, writing-original, review, and editing. RSG: design, data acquisition, writing-review. AB: conception and design, data acquisition, writing-review, and editing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. AB is the guarantor for this work.

  • 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.

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  • Competing interests None declared.

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