Studies show case-based online CME effective

Leads to long-term improvement in physicians' domestic violence management skills

Two new studies reported in the February 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine show that a case-based online continuing medical education program helps community physicians better deal with the difficult problems posed by their patients who are in abusive relationships. The studies, authored by Dr. Lynn Short and her colleagues, describe the results of a 5-year federally-funded effort to find better ways to improve physician education in domestic violence (intimate partner violence).

The project was undertaken by physician-led medical education company, Medical Directions of Tucson, Arizona, with the research led by external evaluation expert, Dr. Short, to ensure an unbiased study. Company President and Principal Investigator, Dr. John Harris Jr., noted "We worked closely with national domestic violence experts on this project. They are the ones who told us what we needed to measure and how to present the important educational messages."

The research work involved two separate projects, the development and validation of a self-administered survey that measured 10 aspects of physician preparedness to manage partner violence, and the development and testing of a comprehensive online education program. After establishing its reliability and validity, the investigators used the survey tool to determine whether their online program was effective. They studied the online program in 52 practicing primary care physicians in Phoenix and Kansas City. Twenty-nine physicians were randomly assigned not to receive any education and 23 were randomly assigned to take the online program. Twelve months after concluding the education, those physicians who took the program showed clear improvement in eight of the 10 measures of physician partner violence preparedness and those who did not take the program showed no change.

Harris explained the importance of the work, "Although almost all physicians are required to take continuing medical education, there is precious little evidence that any of it works. This trial shows that well-designed education, available over the Internet, can have a lasting and positive impact in an important area." He stated that his company offers the online program at a low price to encourage physicians and their organizations to use the program. Dr. Short explained that the survey tool she and her associates developed is one of the few comprehensive evaluation instruments for healthcare provider IPV (intimate partner violence) training that has been rigorously tested and is now readily available. It will be made available for free to other educational researchers via the American Journal of Preventive Medicine website at www.ajpm-online.net.

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The articles are "A Tool for Measuring Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence" by Lynn M. Short, PhD, MPH, Elaine Alpert, MD, MPH, John M. Harris Jr., MD, MBA, and Zita J. Surprenant, MD, MPH, and "A Community-Based Trial of an Online Intimate Partner Violence CME Program" by Lynn M. Short, PhD, MPH, Zita J. Surprenant, MD, MPH, and John M. Harris Jr., MD, MBA. They are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 30, Issue 2 (February 2006).


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