Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects at least 4 million people in the United States, yet only 16% of people with CFS have received a diagnosis or medical care for their illness. Educating health care professionals about the diagnosis and management of CFS may help to reduce population morbidity associated with CFS.
This report presents findings over a 5-year period from May 2000 to June 2006 during which we developed and implemented a health care professional educational program. The objective of the program was to distribute CFS continuing education materials to providers at professional conferences, offer online continuing education credits in different formats (e.g., print, video, and online), and evaluate the number of accreditation certificates awarded.
We found that smaller conference size (OR = 80.17; 95% CI 8.80, 730.25), CFS illness related target audiences (OR = 36.0; 95% CI 2.94, 436.34), and conferences in which CFS research was highlighted (OR = 4.15; 95% CI 1.16, 14.83) significantly contributed to higher dissemination levels, as measured by visit rates to the education booth. While print and online courses were equally requested for continuing education credit opportunities, the online course resulted in 84% of the overall award certificates, compared to 14% for the print course. This remained consistent across all provider occupations: physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and allied health professionals.
These findings suggest that educational programs promoting materials at conferences may increase dissemination efforts by targeting audiences, examining conference characteristics, and promoting online continuing education forums.