Using mobile interventions can be a powerful tool for promoting continuing medical education among clinicians in resource-limited settings, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.
The study, published in BMJ Global Health, used a short message service-based (SMS) educational intervention to improve medical knowledge across a wide range of clinical domains among a group of Vietnamese HIV clinicians.
“The mCME Project has clearly demonstrated that a simple, low-cost, low-burden intervention can powerfully influence clinicians’ self-study behaviors, and thereby improve clinical knowledge,” says lead author Dr. Christopher Gill, associate professor of global health at BUSPH.
The researchers enrolled 106 HIV clinicians from three provinces in the study. The clinicians were then divided into intervention and control groups. For six months, both groups received access to online CME courses and were encouraged to use them as often as they liked. However, only the intervention group received daily SMS messages with quiz questions, linked readings, and feedback messages on performance.
The study found was that participants who received the SMS texts were more than twice as likely to use the CME online courses. They were also more likely to increase engagement in self-study behaviors than the control group, including using medical textbooks, consulting with colleagues, searching the Internet, using specialist websites, and consulting with Vietnam guidelines on AIDS treatment. Participants who received the texts also did better on the exams, with 23 percent gains in scores compared to only 12 percent gains among the control group, and also reported higher job satisfaction.
“We see mCME as a novel pedagogical approach that is pragmatic, flexible, and generalizable, since our intervention has no inherent links to any particular content area, user group, or geography,” the researchers wrote.