eLearning programs are an effective platform to improve malnutrition knowledge

Ms Lauren Atkins1

1Peter MacCallum , Melbourne, Australia

 

Aim: Malnutrition is prevalent in cancer patients and is associated with inferior outcomes. The Malnutrition in Victorian Cancer Service project commenced in 2012 to examine the magnitude and impact of cancer malnutrition and highlight gaps in service delivery. A key finding from phase I of this project was clinicians were seeking further education on malnutrition. This was addressed through development of eLearning programs for multidisciplinary clinicians during phase II. Phase III is currently underway and aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the eLearning programs.

 

Methods: Ethics approval was granted to embed surveys in the eLearning programs at three time-points – prior to completion, immediately following completion and 6 months following completion – to explore knowledge, opinions and practices of clinicians before and after program completion.

 

Results: Of 232 national and international registered users, 55% were dietitians, 38% nurses, 2.5% radiation therapists, and the remainder medical staff, pharmacists, allied health assistants and students.

Following completion of the program, there was an increase in proportion of participants reporting very good or excellent knowledge of cancer malnutrition (26% pre-program versus 89% post). This knowledge was retained at 6 months post with 89% of those surveyed still reporting very good or excellent knowledge.

Familiarity with valid and reliable malnutrition screening tools  improved from 65% pre-program to 92% post-program and 100% 6 months post. Knowledge of malnutrition diagnostic criteria improved from 76% pre-program to 95% post-program and 100% 6 months post. Post-program, 100% of participants agreed that nutritional screening should occur at regular intervals during their cancer journey. This perspective was maintained at 6 month post completion.

 

Significance: The Malnutrition in Cancer eLearning program has demonstrated strong potential to improve and sustain knowledge and practice related to malnutrition in oncology care. Strategies to promote clinician and organisation uptake are recommended.