Introduction: In North America, there are a growing number of patients with hemoglobinopathies, including sickle cell disease and thalassemia. As previously identified in needs assessment surveys of Canadian hematology training program directors and fellows (Verhovsek et. al. 2014 - https://ash.confex.com/ash/2014/webprogram/Paper71742.html), hemoglobinopathy learning constitutes an integral component of the hematology residency curriculum, however there are significant differences in volume and case-mix of hemoglobinopathy exposure among training programs. Fellows and program directors expressed strong interest in online e-learning modules to address gaps in clinical and laboratory learning. As such, we developed a set of e-learning modules for hemoglobinopathies that were implemented as a pilot study. We hypothesized that the e-learning-based curriculum would enhance education and standardize curricular exposure between Canadian hematology programs.
Methods: Based on the National Hemoglobinopathy Learning Objectives, a curriculum of 12 case-based modules was developed. Modules were implemented as a pilot study in four Canadian hematology training programs using a distributed practice model - two modules every two months over the 12-month academic year. Training programs were selected based on baseline hemoglobinopathy exposure in their curriculum (two programs with high baseline exposure and two programs with low baseline exposure). Fellows completed the modules independently. Learning was supplemented with bimonthly module review sessions facilitated by expert faculty. In programs where the program directors did not identify a local faculty member with content expertise, review sessions were run by web conference. Data were collected regarding the efficacy of the intervention through three main formats: in-person fellow focus groups, online fellow questionnaires, and sets of designated hemoglobinopathy-related questions at the annual National Hematology Online Practice Exam for all Canadian Hematology fellows.
Results: From online graded survey responses (1 to 5, "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree"), 97% of respondents indicated the modules were relevant to their particular learning needs (Mean 4.39, SD = 0.55). All survey respondents indicated the case scenarios were realistic, and 95% felt that the e-learning software was easy to use, engaging and offered flexibility of computer-based learning. Responses in focus group feedback sessions mirrored the survey findings: modules were described as "very useful", "realistic", and of high production quality, with participants indicating they felt the issue of variability in case mix could be addressed with online cases. With respect to the expert-led case review sessions, the majority of focus group responses indicated they were valuable and enhanced the learning obtained from online modules, with review sessions being increasingly useful with later modules that were more challenging. In addition, both online survey responses and focus group feedback identified that participants would strongly recommend the modules to their colleagues (97% of survey responses, Mean 4.43, SD = 0.56). Finally, comparing results of the annual National Hematology Online Practice exam, programs that participated in the online hemoglobinopathy modules saw their fellows achieve a higher incremental change in their score from 2015 to 2016, as compared to their counterparts who did not participate in the online modules (increase of 18.5% vs. 14.8%).
Conclusion/Implications: In this pilot implementation study, online hemoglobinopathy modules were shown to have high usability and user satisfaction with content. Fellows agreed that the e-learning modules addressed current gaps in curricula and variability in case-mix exposure. Among fellows who have completed the annual National Hematology Online Practice Exam, comparison of the 2015 and 2016 exam scores in participating and non-participating programs indicated improved performance on hemoglobinopathy-related questions. Taken together, our study has shown that our proposed e-learning-based curriculum has been a successful intervention in promoting, standardizing and enhancing education in hemoglobinopathies among Canadian hematology programs.
Bates: Eli Lilly Canada: Other: Partial salary support through Eli Lilly Canada/May Cohen Chair in Women's Health.