The effect of an educational programme to improve the skills of general practitioners in diagnosing melanocytic/pigmented lesions
Youl, Philippa H., Raasch, Beverly A., Janda, Monika, & Aitken, Joanne F. (2007) The effect of an educational programme to improve the skills of general practitioners in diagnosing melanocytic/pigmented lesions. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 32(4), pp. 365-370.
Background. Skin cancer is a major public health issue in fair-skinned populations, and general practitioners (GPs) play an important role in the diagnosis and management of this disease.
Aims. To evaluate a self-instructional education module with audit and feedback, designed to increase the skills of GPs in diagnosing melanocytic lesions and skin cancer.
Methods. This study, conducted in Queensland, Australia, included 16 GPs who participated in an 18-month programme, comprising a 6-month baseline audit of skin excisions, a 6-month educational programme and a 6-month posteducation audit.
Results. The overall diagnostic accuracy of malignant lesions was 63.2% (95% CI 60.0–66.3) during baseline and 64.5% (95% CI 61.1–67.7) posteducation. Significant improvements were seen posteducation in the proportion of melanocytic lesions confirmed as malignant (6.1% baseline and 13.5% posteducation, χ2 = 6.6, P = 0.01). GPs with < 15 years of practice recorded significantly lower levels of diagnostic accuracy at baseline compared with those with ≥ 25 years of practice (P = 0.001). There were no differences in diagnostic skill posteducation according to years of practice.
Conclusions. The education programme improved the malignant : benign ratio of melanocytic lesions, resulting in a doubling in the number of melanomas diagnosed. We found that GPs with less experience benefited most from the programme, indicating that tailoring of programmes to individual skills and years of practice might be beneficial.
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