Use of an e-Learning Educational Module to Better Equip Doctors to Prescribe for Older Patients: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Drugs Aging. 2017 May;34(5):367-374. doi: 10.1007/s40266-017-0451-0.


Background: The older patient population is significantly different from the younger adult population with regards to dose selection for a wide variety of drugs. Recent investigation of prescribing attitudes indicates that doctors feel there is insufficient distinction made between the two cohorts during their undergraduate education, and that doctors do not receive enough training in geriatric pharmacotherapy.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine if an online module, focused on geriatric pharmacotherapy, improves doctors' prescribing knowledge, as well as prescribing confidence, as applied to older patients.

Methods: The impact of an online educational module (SCRIPT) on hospital doctors' prescribing knowledge and confidence with regards to older patients was assessed by randomised controlled trial. Control and intervention groups completed assessments at baseline, 4 and 12 weeks. Primary outcome was difference in mean test scores. Student's t tests were used to analyse the data. Qualitative data on participant's confidence levels were also collected.

Results: Eighty participants completed the 12-week trial. The SCRIPT intervention resulted in a 22% difference in mean test scores between control and intervention groups at 4 weeks (23.12 marks versus 33.67 marks; p < 0.0001; 95% CI 8.13-12.97). This significance was maintained at 12 weeks. Thirty-four percent of participants in the intervention group rated themselves as 'confident' with regards to prescribing for older patients post-intervention compared with 12% in the control group.

Conclusion: A short e-learning module focused on geriatric pharmacotherapy can significantly improve doctors' prescribing knowledge and confidence with regards to older patients. NCT02405975.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Electronic Prescribing / standards*
  • Electronic Prescribing / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Pharmacology, Clinical / education*
  • Physicians / standards*

Associated data