Enhanced referral prioritisation for acute adult dietetic services: A randomised control trial to test a web-based decision training tool.
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Dietitians in acute adult services need to prioritise dietetic referrals in order to manage their daily workload and ensure effective treatment of patients. Newly qualified dietitians do not usually receive specific training on prioritisation and could be helped with an evidence-based, effective, decision-training tool that is based on the practice of experienced dietitians. We developed an internationally available web-based decision-training tool designed to improve novice dietitians' ability to make dietetic prioritisation decisions. The training tool comprised of a pre-training task, a post-training task and training materials. The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of the training tool on novices' ability for dietetic prioritisation. METHODS: Pre-registration dietitians and recent graduates (one-year) from across the UK were invited to participate in this randomised controlled trial (RCT). Each participant made prioritisation decisions on a set of dietetic referral scenarios: 53 scenarios at pre-training and 27 at post-training. After pre-training the intervention group was presented with the training materials, whereas the control group was told to carry on with the post-training task. Participants did not know which group they had been randomly allocated to. We calculated i) level of agreement between decisions made by each novice and experts' consensus using Pearson correlation, intra-class correlation (ICC(2,1)); ii) intra-rater consistency using ICC(1,1) and iii) intra-group consistency using ICC (2,1). We compared group means at pre-training and post-training; estimated effect size using the degree of change from pre- to post-training, and 2-factor mixed ANOVA to assess overall effect of the training across the groups and time-points. RESULTS: 151 participants (69 in control and 82 in intervention) completed the trial. The groups did not differ in demographic characteristics. Both Pearson and ICC(2,1) correlations increased with training intervention; a moderate effect of training was found for both metrics, d = 0.69 (r = 0.32) for the former and d = 0.54 (r = 0.26) for the latter. Intra-rater consistency improved with training but with a small effect size, d = 0.32 (r = 0.16). The intra-group consistency also improved with training: ICC = 0.48 pre-training to 0.61 post-training. CONCLUSIONS: The training tool was found to be effective in improving the novice dietitian's ability to prioritise referrals in the acute adult setting. The training tool is freely available at www.dietitianreferral.org for use by all student or early career dietitians internationally.
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