The effect of a complementary e-learning course on implementation of a quality improvement project regarding care for elderly patients: A stepped wedge trial

NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, PO Box 1568, 3500, BN Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Implementation Science (Impact Factor: 4.12). 03/2012; 7(1):13. DOI: 10.1186/1748-5908-7-13
Source: PubMed


Delirium occurs frequently in elderly hospitalised patients and is associated with higher mortality, increased length of hospital stay, functional decline, and admission to long-term care. Healthcare professionals frequently do not recognise delirium, indicating that education can play an important role in improving delirium care for hospitalised elderly. Previous studies have indicated that e-learning can provide an effective way of educating healthcare professionals and improving quality of care, though results are inconsistent.
This stepped wedge cluster randomised trial will assess the effects of a complementary delirium e-learning course on the implementation of quality improvement initiative, which aims to enhance the recognition and management of delirium in elderly patients. The trial will be conducted in 18 Dutch hospitals and last 11 months. Measurements will be taken in all participating wards using monthly record reviews, in order to monitor delivered care. These measurements will include the percentage of elderly patients who were screened for the risk of developing delirium, use of the Delirium Observation Screening scale, use of nursing or medical interventions, and the percentage of elderly patients who were diagnosed with delirium. Data regarding the e-learning course will be gathered as well. These data will include user characteristics, information regarding use of the course, delirium knowledge before and after using the course, and the attitude and intentions of nurses concerning delirium care.
The study will be conducted in internal medicine and surgical wards of eighteen hospitals that are at the beginning stages of implementing the Frail Elderly Project in the Netherlands.
Better recognition of elderly patients at risk for delirium and subsequent care is expected from the introduction of an e-learning course for nurses that is complementary to an existing quality improvement project. This trial has the potential to demonstrate that e-learning can be a vital part of the implementation process, especially for quality improvement projects aimed at complex health issues such as delirium. The study will contribute to a growing body of knowledge concerning e-learning and the effects it can have on knowledge as well as delivered care.
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2885.

Download full-text


Available from: Maaike Langelaan,
  • Source
    • "The rationale and design of this study has been described previously in detail [20]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Delirium occurs frequently in older hospitalised patients and is associated with several adverse outcomes. Ignorance among healthcare professionals and a failure to recognise patients suffering from delirium have been identified as the possible causes of poor care. The objective of the study was to determine whether e-learning can be an effective means of improving implementation of a quality improvement project in delirium care. This project aims primarily at improving the early recognition of older patients who are at risk of delirium. In a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial an e-learning course on delirium was introduced, aimed at nursing staff. The trial was conducted on general medical and surgical wards from 18 Dutch hospitals. The primary outcome measure was the delirium risk screening conducted by nursing staff, measured through monthly patient record reviews. Patient records from patients aged 70 and over admitted onto wards participating in the study were used for data collection. Data was also collected on the level of delirium knowledge of these wards’ nursing staff. Records from 1,862 older patients were included during the control phase and from 1,411 patients during the intervention phase. The e-learning course on delirium had a significant positive effect on the risk screening of older patients by nursing staff (OR 1.8, p-value <0.01), as well as on other aspects of delirium care. The number of patients diagnosed with delirium was reduced from 11.2% in the control phase to 8.7% in the intervention phase (p = 0.04). The e-learning course also showed a significant positive effect on nurses’ knowledge of delirium. Nurses who undertook a delirium e-learning course showed a greater adherence to the quality improvement project in delirium care. This improved the recognition of patients at risk and demonstrated that e-learning can be a valuable instrument for hospitals when implementing improvements in delirium care. Trial registration The Netherlands National Trial Register (NTR). Trial number: NTR2885.
    BMC Geriatrics 05/2014; 14(1):69. DOI:10.1186/1471-2318-14-69 · 1.68 Impact Factor
  • Source

    Annals of Medicine and Surgery 12/2013; 2(1):22–25. DOI:10.1016/S2049-0801(13)70023-2

  • Ochsner Journal 09/2013; 13(3):298.
Show more