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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2008 Dec;36(6):596-603. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.12.009. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Evaluation of a web-based palliative care pain management module for housestaff.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


The objectives of this study were to determine internal medicine residents' knowledge of outpatient palliative care pain management, describe the association of level of training with knowledge, and evaluate the impact on knowledge of a web-based, interactive, evidence-based educational module. We developed the module using established educational principles, based on review of other educational materials, guidelines, and the medical literature. The module included pretest and post-test questions, case studies, didactic sections, and web links. Six hundred twelve housestaff in 35 training programs in 19 states completed the module during the 2005-2006 academic year (196 [32.0%] postgraduate year [PGY]-1, 200 [32.7%] PGY-2, and 216 [35.3%] PGY-3). The mean pretest score was 54.4% (range 31.1%-84.6%); scores were lowest for specific pain management knowledge questions, including appropriate titration of breakthrough opioid doses (mean 31.1% correct) and appropriate initial use of opioids (40.7% correct). Pretest scores were not significantly different by level of training (52.2% for PGY-1 and 56.7% for PGY-3). The mean post-test score was 72.8%, a statistically significant increase from the pretest overall (P<0.001) and for seven of the 10 learning objectives (P<0.001). These findings indicate that housestaff lacked knowledge in many areas of palliative care pain management, and knowledge did not increase with time spent in residency. The large increase in test scores after the module suggests that this may be an effective component of a comprehensive palliative care curriculum.

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