ABSTRACT: Getting it right: the impact of a continuing medical education program on hepatitis B knowledge of Australian primary care providers.
In Australia, chronic hepatitis B (CHB) disproportionately affects migrants born in hepatitis B endemic countries, but its detection and management in high risk populations remains suboptimal. We piloted a primary care based program for CHB detection and management in an area of high disease prevalence in Sydney, Australia. Prior to its launch, all local general practitioners were invited to take part in a continuing medical education (CME) program on hepatitis B diagnosis and management.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
Preceding each CME activity, participants completed an anonymous survey recording demographic data and hepatitis B knowledge, confidence in CHB management, and preferred CME modalities. We compared knowledge scores of first-time and repeat attendees.
Most participants (75%) were males, spoke more than one language with their patients (91%), self-identified as Asian-Australians (91%), and had graduated over 20 years previously (69%). The majority (97%) knew what patient groups require CHB and hepatocellular cancer screening, but fewer (42%-75%) answered hepatitis B management and vaccination questions correctly. Knowledge scores were not significantly improved by seminar attendance and the provision of hepatitis B resources. At baseline, participants were fairly confident about their ability to screen for CHB, provide vaccinations, and manage CHB. This did not change with repeat attendances, and did not correlate with survey outcomes. Large group CMEs were the preferred learning modality.
Knowledge gaps in hepatitis B diagnosis and management translate into missed opportunities to screen for CHB, to vaccinate those susceptible, and to prevent disease complications. The results suggest that a range of innovative CME programs are required to update general practitioners on the modern management of CHB infection.