A Randomized Trial on the Efficacy of Mastery Learning for Primary Care Provider Melanoma Opportunistic Screening Skills and Practice

June K. Robinson, Namita Jain, Ashfaq A. Marghoob, William McGaghie, Michael MacLean, Pedram Gerami, Brittney Hultgren, Rob Turrisi, Kimberly Mallett, Gary J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Early detection of melanoma represents an opportunity to reduce the burden of disease among people at increased risk for melanoma. Objective: To develop and demonstrate the efficacy of online training. Design: Randomized educational trial. Participants: Primary care providers (PCPs). Intervention: Mastery learning course with visual and dermoscopic assessment, diagnosis and management, and deliberate practice with feedback to reach a minimum passing standard. Main Measures: Pre-test/post-test diagnostic accuracy. Referral of concerning lesions for 3 months before and after the educational intervention. Key Results: Among the 89 PCPs, 89.8% were internal medicine physicians, and the remainder were physician assistants embedded in internists’ practices. There were no differences between control and intervention groups regarding gender, age, race, or percentage of full-time PCPs. The control group had more PCPs who reported less than 5 years of practice (n = 18) than the intervention group (n = 6) (χ2 [6, n = 89] = 14.34, p = 0.03). PCPs in the intervention group answered more melanoma detection questions correctly on the post-test (M = 10.05, SE = 1.24) compared to control group PCPs (M = 7.11, SE = 0.24), and had fewer false-positive and no false-negative melanoma diagnoses (intervention, M = 1.09, SE = 0. 20; control, M = 3.1, SE = 0.23; ANCOVA, F[1,378] =27.86, p < 0.001; ηp 2 = 0.26). PCPs who underwent training referred fewer benign lesions, including nevi, seborrheic keratoses, and dermatofibromas, than control PCPs (F[1,79] = 72.89, p < 0.001; ηp 2 = 0.489; F[1,79] = 25.82, p < 0.001; ηp 2 = 0.246; F[1,79] = 34.25, p < 0.001; ηp 2 = 0.302; respectively). Those receiving training referred significantly more melanomas than controls (F[1,79] = 24.38, p < 0.001; ηp 2 = 0.236). Referred melanomas (0.8 ± 0.07 per month for intervention, 0.17 ± 0.06 for control) were mostly located on the head and neck. Conclusions: Mastery learning improved PCPs’ ability to detect melanoma on a standardized post-test and may improve referral of patients with suspected melanoma. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02385253.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-862
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine


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