Background: Advances in disease-modifying therapies (DMT) for multiple sclerosis (MS) have left clinicians challenged to incorporate DMTs, monitor disease progression, and engage patients in their treatment. Concurrently, patients must be armed with knowledge of MS, treatment options, potential side effects and signs of disability progression, and practical strategies to engage in their care and manage functional losses and disease progression.
Objectives: To assess the influence of online continuing medical education (CME) in addressing clinician gaps on treatment, disease monitoring, and communication in MS management, and concurrently assess the influence of online patient/caregiver education in addressing knowledge gaps on MS disease, treatment options, and management strategies.
Methods: Three 60-min activities, 1 for HCPs (CME), 1 for patients/caregivers, and 1 for a joint HCP/patient/caregiver audience, were launched live-online in June/July 2019 and remained on-demand for 1 year. Test questions were administered pre-, immediate post-, and 2 mos. post-activity. Responses from learner polling and follow-up surveys were analyzed for engagement, lessons learned, and continuing gaps. McNemar tests compared paired responses (pre/post & pre/2 mos.) with Cohens d for effect size. For the patient/caregiver audience, the validated survey, Patient Activation Measure (PAM), was administered to a sample of patient learners pre and post-education to measure activation and empowerment.
Results: 1,640 HCP learners and 68,599 patients and caregivers engaged with the education. Of the HCP audience, 117 completed questions from all three time points. Of the 8 pre/post-test questions, 7 showed significant improvements pre to post education and maintained above-baseline gains in follow-up scores at 2 mos. post-education. At 2 mos. post, 79% reported a positive impact on patient experience, and 89% reported a positive impact on clinical practice. Qualitative write-in examples (177) revealed themes (symptom relief for patients, improved screening/detection, etc.). Of the patient/caregiver audience, 50 completed questions from all three time points. Of the 5 pre/post knowledge questions, 2 showed significant improvements at 2 mos. post-education and all 5 maintained above-baseline gains 2 mos. post-education. 66% reported a positive impact on health-related behavior. Qualitative write-in examples (41) revealed themes (improved diet/exercise, communication, etc.). PAM results showed a 20% shift towards higher activation levels, from 65% at pre-test to 85% at post-test.
Conclusions: Post-test and participant surveys support the positive impact of live-online CME and caregiver education focused on improving clinician and patient knowledge of MS, treatment options, disease monitoring, and shared decision-making strategies.