Background: Internal medicine residents are deficient in their knowledge about familial colorectal cancer (CRC) and thus unable to comply with appropriate screening guidelines. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a mixed educational program that incorporates both a didactic lecture (DL) and interactive, case-based seminar (ICBS), plus distribution of a personal digital assistant (PDA)-based risk assessment tool.
Methods: Internal medicine resident continuity care teams were randomly assigned to an intervention (9 teams; 43 residents) or control (11 teams; 39 residents) arm. Both groups participated in a DL addressing the current status of CRC screening for average, moderate, and high-risk groups. Intervention teams also participated in a 1-h pre-clinic ICBS that included vignettes about patients at moderate or high risk of CRC because of family history, following which they received the risk assessment tool by e-mail. Knowledge and clinical risk assessment skills were evaluated using pre/posttests, patient exit interviews, and chart audits.
Results: Baseline test scores were similar for both groups (intervention, 51%vs control, 54%; p= 0.35). Immediate post-ICBS scores (intervention group only) significantly increased to 82% (p < 0.001). Six-month post-ICBS scores declined for the intervention group but remained significantly higher than 6-month control group scores (63%vs 56%, p= 0.002), which were unchanged from baseline. No significant differences were observed with respect to family history-taking or documentation skills.
Conclusion: A mixed educational program that incorporates both a DL and ICBS is more effective that the DL alone for increasing knowledge about familial CRC risk but may have limited influence on clinical risk assessment skills.