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Am J Prev Med. 2010 Nov;39(5):472-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.07.016.

Durable improvements in prostate cancer screening from online spaced education a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Massachusetts 02130, USA. price.kerfoot@gmail.com

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Prostate cancer screening with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is frequently performed, counter to clinical practice guidelines.

BACKGROUND:

It was hypothesized that an e-mail-based intervention termed "spaced education" could reduce clinicians' inappropriate screening for prostate cancer.

DESIGN:

The study was conducted as an RCT.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS:

The study involved 95 primary care clinicians in eight Veterans Affairs medical centers from January 2007 to February 2009.

INTERVENTION:

Participants were randomized into two cohorts: spaced education clinicians received four isomorphic cycles of nine e-mails over 36 weeks (zero to two e-mails per week), whereas control clinicians received no intervention. Each e-mail presented a clinical scenario and asked whether it was appropriate to obtain a PSA test. Participants received immediate feedback after submitting their answers.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The primary outcome was the number and percentage of inappropriate PSA screening tests ordered. Inappropriate testing was defined as use of PSA for prostate cancer screening in patients aged >76 or <40 years. Appropriateness of screening was dichotomized based on patient age at time of screening. Patients with PSA testing for non-screening reasons were excluded using a validated protocol. Logistic regression with adjustment for patient clustering by clinician was performed. Analyses were conducted in 2009.

RESULTS:

During the intervention period (Weeks 1-36), clinicians receiving spaced education e-mails ordered significantly fewer inappropriate PSA screening tests than control clinicians (10.5% vs 14.2%, p=0.041). Over the 72-week period following the intervention (Weeks 37-108), spaced education clinicians continued to order fewer inappropriate tests compared to controls (7.8% vs 13.1%, respectively, p=0.011), representing a 40% relative reduction in inappropriate screening.

CONCLUSIONS:

Spaced education durably improves the prostate cancer screening behaviors of clinicians and represents a promising new methodology to improve patient care across healthcare systems.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01168323.

PMID:
20965387
PMCID:
PMC2994103
DOI:
10.1016/j.amepre.2010.07.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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