UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Medicine | Health Information Technology | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Integrative Medicine | Medical Education | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that internet education can lead to short-term improvements in clinicians' knowledge, confidence and communication practices. We wished to better understand the duration of these improvements and whether different curriculum delivery strategies differed in affecting these improvements.

METHODS: As previously described, we conducted a randomized control trial comparing four different strategies for delivering an e-curriculum about herbs and other dietary supplements (HDS) to clinicians. The four strategies were delivering the curriculum by: a) email over 10 weeks; b) email within one week; c) web-site over 10 weeks; d) web-site within one week. Participants were surveyed at baseline, immediately after the course and 6-10 months after completing the course (long-term). Long-term outcomes focused on clinicians' knowledge, confidence and communication practices.

RESULTS: Of the 780 clinicians who completed the course, 385 (49%) completed the long-term survey. Completers and non-completers of the long-term survey had similar demographics and professional characteristics at baseline. There were statistically significant improvements from baseline to long-term follow-up in knowledge, confidence and communication practices; these improvements did not differ by curriculum delivery strategy. Knowledge scores improved from 67.7 +/- 10.3 at baseline to 78.8 +/- 12.3 at long-term follow-up (P < 0.001). Confidence scores improved from 53.7 +/- 17.8 at baseline to 66.9 +/- 12.0 at long term follow-up (P < 0.001); communication scores improved from 2.6 +/- 1.9 at baseline to 3.6 +/- 2.1 (P < 0.001) at long-term follow-up.

CONCLUSION: This e- curriculum led to significant and sustained improvements in clinicians' expertise about HDS regardless of the delivery strategy. Future studies should compare the impact of required vs. elective courses and self-reported vs. objective measures of behavior change.


Knowledge Score, Continue Medical Education, Communication Practice, Delivery Strategy, Communication Score

Rights and Permissions

© 2006 Beal et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Med Educ. 2006 Aug 7;6:39. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-6-39. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC medical education


At the time of publication, Paula Gardiner was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID