Melanoma incidence and mortality is a growing concern. Better recognition and management of skin cancer by primary care providers (PCPs) could help, but studies suggest they would benefit from additional education. Effective educational programs are needed.
We developed and conducted a voluntary before-and-after evaluation of a 1- to 2-hour interactive, web-based course in skin cancer detection for practicing, board-certified PCPs (http://www.skinsight.com/info/for_professionals/dermatology-education-resources). Voluntary participants' ability to diagnose and manage skin cancer was assessed using pretests, immediate tests, and 6-month posttests. The effect on actual practice patterns was assessed using participants' patient panels: referrals or visits to dermatology and skin biopsies during the 6 months after the course were compared with those during the same period before the course.
The mean age of the 54 participants was 50.5 years (standard deviation, 11.1); 54% were women and 52% were Asian. The mean score for appropriate diagnosis and management increased from 36.1% to 46.7% (odds ratio, 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-1.9), with greatest improvement in benign lesions, from 32.1% to 46.3% (odds ratio, 1.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-2.4). Dermatology referrals for suspicious lesions or new visits by participants' patients decreased at both sites after the course (from 630 to 607 and from 726 to 266, respectively).
This course improved skills in practicing PCPs. Improvement was greatest in the diagnosis and appropriate management of benign lesions and dermatology utilization decreased.