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Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated illness for providers and patients. Fewer than 20% of persons with CFS have been diagnosed and treated. For providers, compounding the issue are the challenges in making a diagnosis due to the lack of a biomedical marker.
Methods: The objective of the CFS diagnosis and management curriculum was to instruct core trainers as to the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of CFS. Over a two year period, 79 primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners from diverse regions in the U.S. participated as core trainers in a two day Train-the-Trainer (TTT) workshop. As core trainers, the workshop participants were expected to show increases in knowledge, self-efficacy, and management skills with the primary goal of conducting secondary presentations.
Results: The optimal goal for each core trainer to present secondary training to 50 persons in the health care field was not reached. However, the combined core trainer group successfully reached 2064 primary care providers. Eighty-two percent of core trainers responded "Very good" or "Excellent" in a post-test survey of self-efficacy expectation and CFS diagnosis. Data from the Chicago workshops showed significant improvement on the Primary Care Opinion Survey (p < 0.01) and on the Relevance and Responsibility Factors of the CAT survey (p = 0.03 and p = 0.04, respectively). Dallas workshop data show a significant change from pre- to post-test scores on the CFS Knowledge test (p = 0.001). Qualitative and process evaluation data revealed that target audience and administrative barriers impacted secondary training feasibility.
Conclusion: Data show the workshop was successful in meeting the objectives of increasing CFS knowledge and raising perceived self-efficacy towards making a diagnosis. The CFS TTT program informed an educational provider project by shifting the format for physicians to grand rounds and continuing medical education design while retaining TTT aspects for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. Evaluations also indicate that secondary trainings may be more readily employed and accepted if administrative barriers are addressed early in the planning phases.
Source: BMC Medical Education, 2008; 8:49, DOI:10.1186/1472-6920-8-49, by Brimmer DJ, McCleary KK, Lupton TA, Faryna KM, Hynes K, Reeves WC. Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia; CFIDS Association of America, Charlotte, North Carolina; Illinois AHEC Program, Midwestern University, Downers Grove Illinois, USA.