Background: The implementation of new medical knowledge into general practice is a complex process. Blended learning may offer an effective and efficient educational intervention to reduce the knowledge-to-practice gap. The aim of this study was to compare knowledge acquisition about dementia management between a blended learning approach using online modules in addition to quality circles (QCs) and QCs alone.
Methods: In this cluster-randomised trial with QCs as clusters and general practitioners (GPs) as participants, 389 GPs from 26 QCs in the western part of Germany were invited to participate. Data on the GPs' knowledge were obtained at three points in time by means of a questionnaire survey. Primary outcome was the knowledge gain before and after the interventions. A subgroup analysis of the users of the online modules was performed.
Results: 166 GPs were available for analysis and filled out a knowledge test at least two times. A significant increase of knowledge was found in both groups that indicated positive learning effects of both approaches. However, there was no significant difference between the groups. A subgroup analysis of the GPs who self-reported that they had actually used the online modules showed that they had a significant increase in their knowledge scores.
Conclusion: A blended learning approach was not superior to a QCs approach for improving knowledge about dementia management. However, a subgroup of GPs who were motivated to actually use the online modules had a gain in knowledge.
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN36550981.