A CME company investigates factors influencing best practice behaviors, so barriers may be addressed in future educational activities.

Many factors lead to the prevalent problem of delayed narcolepsy diagnosis, and so medical researchers are investigating many ways to tackle the complex issue.

One medical education company is looking for potential solutions in educational interventions. In its study “Factors Influencing Best Practices in Narcolepsy: Results from a Predictive Modeling Analysis of Educational Outcomes Data,” CME Outfitters looked at the level of knowledge providers have about diagnosing and treating the neurological sleep disorder.

To improve the knowledge and practice behaviors of healthcare providers that treat narcolepsy, the coauthors developed a continuing medical education (CME) activity (a 3-part webcast) and used predictive modeling techniques to find the factors that influence best practice behaviors among providers.

“As educators, we’re always looking for ways to improve our education techniques to address the needs to various learners and tailor more to real-world clinical scenarios, so it’s important for us to know the ‘why’ behind provider’s knowledge, behaviors, and other endpoints,” says Jan Perez, managing partner at CME Outfitters and a coauthor of the study.

The researchers used PredictCME, predictive modeling techniques based on a method known as chi-square automatic interaction detection. It allowed the researchers to determine the factors that influenced behavior, confidence levels, and specific practice behaviors. The hope is to use these insights to develop future educational activities that would influence best practice behaviors among providers.

The researchers applied the predictive modeling analysis to two questions in the pre-survey CME activity questions: “How often do you use a screening tool with your patients with excessive daytime sleepiness?” and “How often do you incorporate diagnostic recommendations from AASM [American Academy of Sleep Medicine] quality measures to improve diagnosis in a patient with narcolepsy?”

Data from the 601 CME activity pre-survey participants found that a provider’s specialty was the strongest predictor of screening and diagnostic behaviors.

“Nothing happens in a vacuum, and even among specialists, there is room for improvement,” Perez says. “The results from the analysis are not surprising because sleep specialists are exposed to many more patients with narcolepsy, and they are trained to think of narcolepsy in a patient who presents those symptoms.”

This study underscored that future CME activities and other provider educational opportunities could emphasize the importance of screening tools for non-sleep specialists and the importance of following the diagnostic criteria as recommended by the AASM for both sleep specialists and non-sleep specialists.

Whether you are a primary care physician or a sleep medicine provider, if your patient is showing signs of excessive daytime sleepiness and other possible narcolepsy symptoms it’s crucial to take a closer look.

“Excessive daytime sleepiness has far-reaching consequences that both patients and providers should not ignore, we all have to go beyond just educational initiatives to push for awareness of the condition and reinforce best practices of diagnosing narcolepsy,” Perez says.

Yoona Ha is a freelance writer and healthcare public relations professional.