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Comments Sought on Web Training of Health-Care Providers

This is the second notice NIDA and NIH issued seeking comments on this proposed program.

The U.S. government is again seeking comments on a plan to provide health-care providers with online training on substance use disorders among patients.

On April 21, 2011, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted a Federal Register notice—Submission for Office of Management & Budget Review; Comment Request; Study of Substance Abuse Module—seeking comments on the proposed plan to use a “web-based teaching module” to train “health-care professionals in providing assessment and referral to treatment for patients who abuse substances.”

This is the second notice NIDA and NIH issued seeking comments on this proposed program. On Dec. 17, 2010 the agencies allowed 60 days for public comment on the planned program, but no comments were filed. The latest notice allows “an additional 30 days for public comment” on the program with May 21, 2011 as the deadline for filing comments.

NIDA and NIH are seeking “a two-year clearance to conduct a research study to assess the efficacy of a specific interactive web-based teaching module in the field of professional education of healthcare providers,” the notice says.

The “online module was developed as a work product” by a team of investigators from Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Penn Med) under a contract as part of NIDA’s Centers of Excellence (CoE) for Physician Information. The project will assess the efficacy of NIDA’s CoE online teaching module with the areas targeted for scrutiny as:

  • Health-care professionals’ levels of knowledge about substance abuse disorders.
  • Health-care professionals’ attitudes toward patients with substance abuse disorders.
  • Health-care professionals’ communication skills in relation to providing patients with substance-abuse assessments and referrals for treatment.

The overall goal of this project is to assess the efficacy of an educational intervention, which should result in an increase in the involvement of primary care providers in the screening, managing and, when appropriate, referring patients with substance use disorders, the notice says.

The project will utilize a randomized cluster controlled trial design that compares the group that receives educational exposure to the set of new educational interventions (NIDA online teaching module plus educational adjuncts) to a control group that receives exposure to the standard medical school or residency educational curriculum related to substance use disorders, the notice says.

The project plans to use a repeated measures approach to assess the educational intervention’s efficacy (i.e., individuals will take surveys before and after exposure to the intervention or to the control curriculum), says the notice, and the outcomes of the study are to be based on changes in knowledge, attitudes, and indirect measures of communication skills before and after the intervention, compared with the changes in these parameters in the control group.

For more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the data collection plans and instruments, contact: Elisabeth Davis, MPH, NIH/NIDA/OSPC, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20824-9591, or e-mail your request, including your address to

Comments should be directed to the White House Office of Management and Budget, Office of Regulatory Affairs, OIRA at or by fax to 202-395-6974, Attention: Desk Officer for NIH.