Effectiveness of smart phone application use as continuing medical education method in pediatric oral health care: a randomized trial
KeywordsSmart phone application
Continuing medical education
Pediatric oral health care
Special aspects of education
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AbstractAbstract Background Continuing education aims at assisting physicians to maintain competency and expose them to emerging issues in their field. Over the last decade, approaches to the delivery of educational content have changed dramatically as medical education at all levels is now benefitting from the use of web-based content and applications for mobile devices. The aim of the present study is to investigate through a randomized trial the effectiveness of a smart phone application to increase public health service physicians’ (PHS physicians) knowledge regarding pediatric oral health care. Method Five of all seven DHCs (District Health Center) in Tehran, which were under the supervision of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Iran University of Medical Sciences, were selected for our study. Physicians of one DHC had participated in a pilot study. All PHS physicians in the other four centers were invited to the current study on a voluntary basis (n = 107). They completed a self-administered questionnaire regarding their knowledge, attitudes, practice in pediatric dentistry, and background. PHS physicians were assigned randomly to intervention and control groups; those in the intervention group, received a newly designed evidence-based smartphone application, and those in the control group received a booklet, a CME seminar, and a pamphlet. A post-intervention survey was administered 4 months later and t-test and repeated measures ANCOVA (Analysis of Covariance) were performed to measure the difference in the PHS physicians’ knowledge, attitude and practice. Results In both groups, the mean knowledge scores were significantly higher (p-Value < 0.001) in post-intervention data compared to those at baseline. Similar results existed in attitude and practice scores. Although the scores in knowledge in the intervention group indicating potentially greater improvement when compared to those of the control group, the differences between the two groups were not statistically significant (dif: 0.84, 95% CI − 0.35 to 2.02). Conclusion In the light of the limitations of the present study, smart phone applications could improve knowledge, attitude and practice in physicians although this method was not superior to the conventional method of CME. Trial registration Our clinical trial had been registered in Iranian Registry of Clinical Trials (registration code: IRCT2016091029765N1).