Efficacy of Continuing Education in Improving Pharmacists' Competencies for Providing Weight Management Service: Three-Arm Randomized Controlled Trial


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Abstract

Introduction:Weight management is a new public health role for community pharmacists in many countries. Lack of expertise is one of the key barriers to counseling obese patients. We evaluated the comparative efficacy of three alternative continuing education (CE) meetings on weight management.Methods:We designed a randomized controlled trial comparing didactic lecture, lecture plus case discussion, and lecture plus small-group training. It was conducted in 2011 in Tehran. Pharmacists' knowledge, attitudes, and competence were evaluated immediately before, immediately after and one month after each meeting via standardized questionnaires and case vignettes. Participants' satisfaction was evaluated after each meeting. Data were analyzed using repeated measure analysis of variance and chi-squared tests.Results:Sixty pharmacists were randomly allocated to each study arm. There were no demographic differences between the arms at the baseline. The knowledge scores significantly improved for all interventions over time. At the follow-up, the small-group training arm obtained significantly higher knowledge scores (p < 0.001, effect size = 0.54). The competence scores in lecture plus case discussion and lecture plus small-group training meetings improved over time (effect size 0.14 and 0.34; difference nonsignificant). Small-group training resulted in significantly higher satisfaction scores (p = 0.005). The interventions' effects on attitudes were similar.Discussion:This is the first study on the implementation and efficacy of various types of CE meetings for community pharmacists to provide weight management services. Lecture plus small group training resulted in better learning retention over time and higher satisfaction. Future studies should evaluate the effects of various types of CE meetings on pharmacists' behavior and their cost-effectiveness.

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