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JMIR Med Educ. 2017 Dec 18;3(2):e24. doi: 10.2196/mededu.7173.

An E-Learning Module to Improve Nongenetic Health Professionals' Assessment of Colorectal Cancer Genetic Risk: Feasibility Study.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Genetics, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.



Nongenetic health providers may lack the relevant knowledge, experience, and communication skills to adequately detect familial colorectal cancer (CRC), despite a positive attitude toward the assessment of history of cancer in a family. Specific training may enable them to more optimally refer patients to genetic counseling.


The aim of this study was to develop an e-learning module for gastroenterologists and surgeons (in training) aimed at improving attitudes, knowledge, and comprehension of communication skills, and to assess the feasibility of the e-learning module for continued medical education of these specialists.


A focus group helped to inform the development of a training framework. The e-learning module was then developed, followed by a feasibility test among a group of surgeons-in-training (3rd- and 4th-year residents) and then among gastroenterologists, using pre- and posttest questionnaires.


A total of 124 surgeons-in-training and 14 gastroenterologists participated. The e-learning was positively received (7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10). Between pre- and posttest, attitude increased significantly on 6 out of the 10 items. Mean test score showed that knowledge and comprehension of communication skills improved significantly from 49% to 72% correct at pretest to 67% to 87% correct at posttest.


This study shows the feasibility of a problem-based e-learning module to help surgeons-in-training and gastroenterologists in recognizing a hereditary predisposition in patients with CRC. The e-learning led to improvements in attitude toward the assessment of cancer family history, knowledge on criteria for referral to genetic counseling for CRC, and comprehension of communication skills.


adenomatous polyposis coli; colorectal neoplasms; colorectal, neoplasms, hereditary nonpolyposis; education; feasibility studies; gastroenterology; genetic testing; health communication; professional

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