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MANUSCRIPT: Effectiveness of an individual, online e-learning program about sexually transmitted infections: a prospective cohort study

Background: Primary health-care professionals play an important role in the treatment and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Continuing Medical Education (CME)-courses can influence the knowledge and behavior of health-care professionals concerning STI. We performed a prospective cohort study to evaluate if the individual and online e-learning program “The STI-consultation”, which uses the Commitment-to-Change (CtC)-method, is able to improve the knowledge, attitude and behavior of Dutch General Practitioners (GPs), concerning the STI-consultation. This e-learning program is an individual, accredited, online CME-program, which is freely available for all GPs and GP-trainees in the Netherlands.
Methods: In total 2192 participants completed the questionnaire before completing the e-learning program and 249 participants completed the follow-up questionnaire after completing the e-learning program. The effect of the program on their knowledge, attitude and behavior concerning the STI-consultation was evaluated.

Results: In total 193 participants formulated 601 learning points that matched the learning objectives of the program. The knowledge and attitude of the participants improved, which persisted up to two years after completing the program. Another 179 participants formulated a total of 261 intended changes concerning the sexual history taking, additional investigation and treatment of STI, 97.2% of these changes was partially or fully implemented in daily practice. Also, 114 participants formulated a total of 180 “unintended” changes in daily practice. These changes concerned the attitude of participants towards STI and the working conditions concerning the STI-consultation.

Conclusion: The individual, online e-learning program “The STI-consultation”, which uses the CtC-method, has a small but lasting, positive effect on the knowledge, attitude, and behavior of GPs concerning the STI-consultation.

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Brian S McGowan, PhD

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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