GP awareness, practice, knowledge and confidence: evaluation of the first nation-wide dementia-focused continuing medical education program in Australia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND:Dementia is under-diagnosed in primary care. Timely diagnosis and care management improve outcomes for patients and caregivers. This research evaluated the effectiveness of a nationwide Continuing Medical Education (CME) program to enhance dementia-related awareness, practice, knowledge and confidence of general practitioners (GPs) in Australia. METHODS:Data were collected from self-report surveys by GPs who participated in an accredited CME program face-to-face or online; program evaluations from GPs; and process evaluations from workshop facilitators. CME participants completed surveys at one or more time-points (pre-, post-program, six to 9 months follow-up) between 2015 and 2017. Paired samples t-test was used to determine difference in mean outcome scores (self-reported change in awareness, knowledge, confidence, practice) between time-points. Multivariable regression analyses were used to investigate associations between respondent characteristics and key variables. Qualitative feedback was analysed thematically. RESULTS:Of 1352 GPs who completed a survey at one or more time-points (pre: 1303; post: 1017; follow-up: 138), mean scores increased between pre-CME and post-program for awareness (Mpost-pre = 0.9, p <  0.0005), practice-related items (Mpost-pre = 1.3, p <  0.0005), knowledge (Mpost-pre = 2.2, p <  0.0005), confidence (Mpost-pre = 2.1, p <  0.0005). Significant increases were seen in all four outcomes for GPs who completed these surveys at both pre- and follow-up time-points. Male participants and those who had practised for five or more years showed greater change in knowledge and confidence. Age, years in practice, and education delivery method significantly predicted post-program knowledge and confidence. Most respondents who completed additional program evaluations (> 90%) rated the training as relevant to their practice. These participants, and facilitators who completed process evaluations, suggested adding more content addressing patient capacity and legal issues, locality-specific specialist and support services, case studies and videos to illustrate concepts. CONCLUSIONS:The sustainability of change in key elements relating to health professionals' dementia awareness, knowledge and confidence indicated that dementia CME programs may contribute to improving capacity to provide timely dementia diagnosis and management in general practice. Low follow-up response rates warrant cautious interpretation of results. Dementia CME should be adopted in other contexts and updated as more research becomes available.

authors

publication date

  • 2020