Background: The process of developing patient management plans requires a series of clinical decision-making skills that can take years in practice to develop. For the inexperienced practitioner, providing a logical, systematic patient management framework may assist in clinical scenarios and accelerate their decision-making skill development. The purpose of this study was to assess whether a novel clinical management decision aid would improve the management decision-making of chiropractic students.
Methods: A prospective before and after study tracked chiropractic master degree students in their final year of study across a 10-week period from February–May, 2017. Case-based assessments were performed at baseline, after initial exposure to the decision aid, and after repeated exposure over the course of the semester. Outcome measures included the results from the 3 assessments, scored out of 20 by two markers using a standardised marking rubric, then averaged and converted to percentages; and 2 feedback questionnaires, given after initial exposure and at 10 weeks.
Results: A total of 75 students (44 males; 31 females) participated in the study. The mean score at baseline was 8.34/20 (41.7%) (95% CI: 7.98, 8.70; SD: 1.56) and after initial exposure was 9.52/20 (47.6%) (95% CI: 9.06, 9.98; SD: 2.02). The mean score after repeated exposure was 15.04/20 (75.2%) (95% CI: 14.46, 15.62; SD: 2.54). From baseline to initial exposure, there was a statistically significant absolute increase in mean score of 1.18/20 (5.9%) (95% CI: 0.6, 1.76; p < 0.0001), or a 2.82/20 (14.1%) relative improvement. From baseline to repeated exposure, there was a statistically significant absolute increase in mean score of 6.7/20 (33.5%) (95% CI: 6.02, 7.38; p < 0.0001), or a 16.06/20 (80.3%) relative improvement. The questionnaire results were also favourable. 56/75 (75%) participants agreed that the decision aid was easy to use and 46/75 (61%) of participants agreed that the decision aid improved their ability to integrate various management techniques.
Conclusion: Implementing a clinical management decision aid into the teaching curriculum helped to facilitate the ability of chiropractic students to develop patient management plans.
Author keywords: Chiropractic — Management — Decision aid — Algorithm — Musculoskeletal — Conservative
Author affiliations: Department of Chiropractic, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
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