E-learning to improve paediatric prescribing skills amongst foundation doctors in the north western deanery:

Participant information (version 1.4 23/7/10)

Is a short E-learning course effective at improving paediatric prescribing skills amongst Foundation Doctors within the North West Deanery?


You are being invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully and to make your decision to take part. Talk to others about the study if you wish.


Part 1 tells you the purpose of this study and what will happen to you if you take part.


Part 2 gives you more detailed information about the conduct of the study.


Contact me on the email address to the right if anything is not clear or if you would like more information.  Take time to decide whether or not you wish to take part.


If you are happy with the information and after consideration wish to proceed, please click here to complete the consent form and enrol.




What is the purpose of the study?


Previous research would suggest that prescribing in Paediatrics is an area of considerable risk of error. It was also suggest that Junior Doctors are generally at high risk of being involved with medication errors and Foundation doctors in particular do not feel confident in prescribing. There is moderate evidence to show that education can improve prescribing. A large range of methods have been reported, including Problem Based Learning, interactive tutorials, online teaching courses and interactive computer games. To date, there has only been one study reporting the use of an E-learning intervention to improve prescribing and that was amongst undergraduates.


There is the need to produce an E-learning paediatric prescribing intervention aimed at junior doctors. This study will produce an E-learning intervention and assess whether its use improves paediatric prescribing skills, as defined by the Foundation Curriculum, amongst foundation doctors within the North West Deanery.

If we do find that this E-learning helps prescribing skills, we will be able to offer similar teaching to doctors in the future to help them when tackling difficult prescribing, such as in paediatrics.


Why have I been chosen?


All foundation doctors in the North West in the training year August 2010 – August 2011 are being asked to participate. This study is not being carried anywhere else and we are aiming to include 300 doctors. We will compare the scores on a series of simple prescribing assessments in two groups, one group who will be offered an E-learning program and one control group.


Do I have to take part?


No.  It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part.  If you do, you will be asked to digitally sign a consent form. You are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason and this will not affect the standard of training you receive in any way.


What will happen to me if I take part?


If you agree to take part, you will fill in a baseline demographic survey and an online consent form on this website. Then when all participants have been recruited, you will complete a baseline prescribing assessment and questionnaire by email which will take about 15-20 minutes. You will then be informed if you are in the E-learning or the control group. Those in the E-learning group will receive this program and be given 4 weeks to complete it. It takes around 2 to 4 hours.  All participants will then complete another prescribing assessment and questionnaire and a final third assessment and questionnaire 8 weeks later. Each of these will again take 15 – 20 minutes.


What are the possible disadvantages of taking part?


The assessment is set at an appropriate level for your training and it is not foreseen that anyone will struggle, but if you perform at a pre-determined level that suggests you are struggling with prescribing to the extent it may harm patients, we will let you and your educational supervisor know so they can offer you some support. This may seem like a concern, but this is highly unlikely to take place and if it did, it is probably advantageous to discover this issue now before patients are involved, to allow you to be supported to improve your skills.


What are the possible benefits of taking part?


All participants will have a chance to complete the extra E-learning, either during or after the trial, depending on which group you are in. It is hoped this will offer you a chance to improve your skills in this area. On completion you will be sent a certificate of achievement to place in your portfolio, which has been approved by the school director.


What if I decide to take part and change my mind?


You may decide to stop being a part of the research study at any time without explanation and without penalty.


Will my taking part in the study be kept confidential?


Yes. All the information about your participation in this study will be kept confidentially.  The details are included in Part 2.                                                          

This completes Part 1 of the Information Sheet.


If the information in Part 1 has interested you and you are considering participation, please continue to read the additional information in Part 2 before making any decision.






I am concerned with what happens if there is a problem with my prescribing?


This is unlikely as it is not that sort of assessment. Everyone will get some questions wrong. We are looking to see if you improve over time and whether the E-learning group perform differently to the control group. Simple errors do happen commonly and mechanisms in your day to day practice, such as pharmacist and nurse checking, keep errors from occurring. There would only be an issue if your performance was reckless and very dangerous.


Here is an example question:-

A child weighs 10kg. What dose of Paracetamol would you prescribe at 15mg/kg?


If you answered that you would give the child 15000mg, which is obviously a massive overdose, we would consider that a dangerous answer. If you made several mistakes like that, we might have concerns with your prescribing. We consider it unlikely you will make a series of such errors, but if you did, it is our responsibility to act to help you improve your skills. If you did perform at a level that is considered dangerous, the Foundation School will be informed and they will arrange with your supervisor to give you some support. Again, this may sound alarming, but we do not expect anyone in the study to perform at this level.


Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?


Yes. The data recorded will be identified with a unique study ID number that you will be informed of and will be used for all correspondence. No other personal identifiers will be used. Data will be stored on a secure password protected PC and will not be used for any purpose other than the study described. The data will be deleted after 5 years in line with Data Protection legislation.


What will happen to the results of the research study?


They will be written up as part of a Masters dissertation and most probably be published in a recognized scientific journal and presented at a medical education conference.


Who is organising and funding the research? 


I am organising and self-funding the study.


Who has reviewed the study?


The research and development department within the North West Deanery and the University of Dundee Research Ethics Committee.


That completes the information.


If you wish to take part in the study, please proceed to complete the consent form and questionnaire.

Contact Details:

Dr Morris Gordon

Royal Manchester Children’s Hopsital

Email study@betterprescribing.com

Ring 0161 276 1234 bleep 1799