Impact of an educational initiative on applied knowledge and attitudes of physicians who treat sexual dysfunction

R Shabsigh, R Sadovsky, R C Rosen, C C Carson, A D Seftel, M Noursalehi
International Journal of Impotence Research 2009, 21 (1): 74-81
A randomized, blinded, multicenter, controlled study was undertaken to assess the impact of a multiyear continuing medical education (CME) initiative on physician knowledge and behavior in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of CME and compare applied knowledge and attitude scores of participants in the Consortium for Improvement in Erectile Function (CIEF), to non-CIEF participants. Subjects were selected randomly and contacted anonymously, by mail, email and fax and requested to enroll in this study. A blinded, validated questionnaire and series of standardized patient (SP) case studies and attitude questions were given to CIEF participants, defined as those who showed an interest in learning more about ED and who took at least one CME-certified program on ED from the CIEF website and non-CIEF participants, defined as those who showed interest in learning more about ED and who took at least one CME-certified program on ED from any organization other than CIEF. The primary outcome was a comparison of subjects' scores who participated in at least one CIEF program to non-participants in CIEF programs. Subjects were also compared based on SP case scores, attitude scores, specialty, years in practice, age and gender. Answers were ranked from best to worst and assigned a corresponding value of 10...3, 2, 1 and 0 (10 being the best), assuming that there may be more than one correct answer to each question in clinical practice. SAS version 9.1 analysis of variance model was used by an independent consultant. A total of 120 physicians completed the questionnaire: 87 urologists (UROs) and 33 primary care physicians (PCPs). UROs scored higher on SP cases compared with PCPs (P=0.0039); however, as a result of participating in CIEF programs, PCPs trended toward more comparable scores to UROs; P=0.23 for SP case 2 that was clinically less complex and P=0.19 for SP case 3 that was more complex. In the other two cases, the gap was reduced; however, UROs scored better than PCPs. PCPs in CIEF (n=23) had significantly higher SP case scores compared with non-CIEF PCPs (n=10); 216.6 vs 191.0, respectively (P=0.0437). PCPs in CIEF also showed a significantly greater level in mean attitude scores compared with UROs, 10.82 vs 8.15, respectively (P<0.0001). Both PCPs and UROs scored higher after participating in CIEF ED educational programs than those clinicians who participated in non-CIEF ED educational programs. In addition, clinicians participating in more CIEF programs scored higher than those participating in fewer CIEF programs. As expected, UROs consistently scored better than PCPs, indicating a higher baseline level of knowledge base about ED. However, this educational gap was significantly reduced in PCPs who participated in CIEF programs. The study demonstrated that PCPs who took more CIEF courses were almost as knowledgeable as UROs on the subject of ED. Longitudinal, disease-specific CME initiatives are valuable in that they positively impact the knowledge and thus the behavior of participating physicians, potentially conferring clinical benefits toward patient outcomes.

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