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Spaced Education to Optimize Prostate Cancer Screening

This study has been completed.
American Urological Association
Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
Wyeth is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer
Information provided by:
Harvard University Faculty of Medicine Identifier:
First received: July 20, 2010
Last updated: August 6, 2010
Last verified: July 2010

Two memory research findings (the spacing and testing effects) can dramatically improve retention of learning, but they have largely have been ignored by educators. The researchers have developed a novel form of online education (termed 'spaced education') based on these two effects which has been shown in randomized trials to improve knowledge acquisition and boost learning retention. Using prostate cancer screening as an experimental system, the researchers investigated whether spaced education could durably improve clinicians' behaviors, not just their knowledge.

Condition Intervention
Prostate Cancer
Behavioral: Online spaced education

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Health Services Research
Official Title: Spaced Education to Optimize Prostate Cancer Screening

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Harvard University Faculty of Medicine:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Percentage of inappropriate prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening performed by clinicians [ Time Frame: Weeks 1-108 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    The primary outcome measure was the difference in the percentage of inappropriate PSA screening performed by clinicians in the spaced education and control cohorts. Based on published clinical guidelines and reports, inappropriate PSA utilization was defined as the use of PSA for prostate cancer screening in patients >76 or <40 years old, or with an estimated life expectancy of less than 10 years.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Change in test scores between cohorts measured in weeks 1-36 [ Time Frame: Weeks 1-36 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
  • Change in spaced education performance measured in weeks 1-36 [ Time Frame: Weeks 1-36 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
  • Clinicians' intention to participate in future spaced education programs [ Time Frame: Week 36 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    Assessed on end-of program survey at week 36

  • Time required by clinicians to complete the spaced education questions-explanations [ Time Frame: Week 36 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    Assessed on end-of program survey at week 36

Enrollment: 95
Study Start Date: January 2007
Study Completion Date: February 2009
Primary Completion Date: February 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Spaced education clinicians - cohort 1
Spaced education clinicians receive four isomorphic cycles of 9 spaced education emails over 36-weeks (0-2 emails per week). Each email contained one question-explanation.
Behavioral: Online spaced education
Spaced education is currently delivered via periodic emails that contain clinical case scenarios and multiple-choice questions. Upon submitting answers to each question online, clinicians receive immediate feedback and educational material. The questions are then repeated over spaced intervals of time to harness the pedagogical benefits of the spacing effect.
No Intervention: Control clinicians - cohort 2
Control clinicians received no intervention


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Primary care providers (physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) from the 8 Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals in the New England region (Veterans Integrated Service Network 1 [VISN-1]) were eligible to enroll.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Primary care providers (PCPs) who ordered PSA as a screen for prostate cancer less than 10 times each year were excluded.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01168323

United States, Massachusetts
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02130
Sponsors and Collaborators
Harvard University Faculty of Medicine
American Urological Association
Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
Wyeth is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer
Principal Investigator: B. Price Kerfoot, MD EdM VA Boston Healthcare System, Harvard Medical School
  More Information

No publications provided by Harvard University Faculty of Medicine

Additional publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: B. Price Kerfoot MD EdM, Harvard Medical School; Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. Identifier: NCT01168323     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: M15310, IRB# 1786, 5K08HS017147
Study First Received: July 20, 2010
Last Updated: August 6, 2010
Health Authority: United States: Institutional Review Board

Keywords provided by Harvard University Faculty of Medicine:
Medical Education
Educational Technology
Clinical Practice Guideline
Prostate specific antigen

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Prostatic Neoplasms
Genital Diseases, Male
Genital Neoplasms, Male
Neoplasms by Site
Prostatic Diseases
Urogenital Neoplasms processed this record on November 24, 2014