BACKGROUND: There is limited research on whether online formative self-assessment and learning can change the behavior of medical professionals.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine if an adaptive longitudinal online curriculum in bone health would improve resident physicians' knowledge, and change their behavior regarding prevention of fragility fractures in women.
METHODS: We used a randomized control trial design in which 50 internal medicine resident physicians at a large academic practice were randomized to either receive a standard curriculum in bone health care alone, or to receive it augmented with an adaptive, longitudinal, online formative self-assessment curriculum delivered via multiple-choice questions. Outcomes were assessed 10 months after the start of the intervention. Knowledge outcomes were measured by a multiple-choice question examination. Clinical outcomes were measured by chart review, including bone density screening rate, calculation of the fracture risk assessment tool (FRAX) score, and rate of appropriate bisphosphonate prescription.
RESULTS: Compared to the control group, residents participating in the intervention had higher scores on the knowledge test at the end of the study. Bone density screening rates and appropriate use of bisphosphonates were significantly higher in the intervention group compared with the control group. FRAX score reporting did not differ between the groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Residents participating in a novel adaptive online curriculum outperformed peers in knowledge of fragility fracture prevention and care practices to prevent fracture. Online adaptive education can change behavior to improve patient care.
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