BACKGROUND: Nongenetic health providers may lack the relevant knowledge, experience, and communication skills to adequately detect familial colorectal cancer (CRC), despite a positive attitude toward the assessment of history of cancer in a family. Specific training may enable them to more optimally refer patients to genetic counseling.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to develop an e-learning module for gastroenterologists and surgeons (in training) aimed at improving attitudes, knowledge, and comprehension of communication skills, and to assess the feasibility of the e-learning module for continued medical education of these specialists.
METHODS: A focus group helped to inform the development of a training framework. The e-learning module was then developed, followed by a feasibility test among a group of surgeons-in-training (3rd- and 4th-year residents) and then among gastroenterologists, using pre- and posttest questionnaires.
RESULTS: A total of 124 surgeons-in-training and 14 gastroenterologists participated. The e-learning was positively received (7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10). Between pre- and posttest, attitude increased significantly on 6 out of the 10 items. Mean test score showed that knowledge and comprehension of communication skills improved significantly from 49% to 72% correct at pretest to 67% to 87% correct at posttest.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the feasibility of a problem-based e-learning module to help surgeons-in-training and gastroenterologists in recognizing a hereditary predisposition in patients with CRC. The e-learning led to improvements in attitude toward the assessment of cancer family history, knowledge on criteria for referral to genetic counseling for CRC, and comprehension of communication skills.