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Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances Simulated Conversation for Health Professionals

Performer: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Principal Investigator: Anjie Emanuel, MPH

Project Duration: 9/30/15-9/29/17

Regulatory Science Challenge

The term “performance-enhancing substances” has been traditionally used to describe drugs and supplements used to improve athletic performance. There is recent evidence showing that many non-athletes also use many of the same substances with the intention to improve cognitive performance or appearance; this evidence supports a broadening of the terminology to “appearance- and performance-enhancing substances” (APES).  APES can directly cause a variety of health risks and the use of certain APES may reduce barriers to the use of other substances (e.g., misuse and abuse of anabolic steroids and recreational drugs), as well as to other risk-taking behaviors. APES screening, prevention, and education present unique challenges for health care professionals.

Project Description

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in partnership with Kognito developed continuing education (CE) credit-approved virtual simulation training scenarios, with the goal of building awareness and reducing behaviors that lead to the use of APES. The simulation training was designed to help pediatric health care providers develop and assess their competencies in managing conversations with parents and adolescents regarding APES. It consisted of didactic content about APES, three simulated conversations, and a resources section. Following the launch of the simulation training, an evaluation was conducted to examine the learning experience among users who elected to claim CE credit.

Project Goals

  • Provide a CE credit-approved simulation training to pediatric health care providers to extend their knowledge of APES and develop their capacity to counsel patients and families about APES.
  • Conduct descriptive analyses of the simulation training to gauge trainee satisfaction with the learning experience and its practicality.

Project Results

The final report from the researchers to the FDA included the following results:

  • Three conversations regarding APES were simulated for training. The training, with CE credit, was offered by the AAP at multiple venues (meetings, publications, listservs). 
  • Learners who participated in the pre- and post-survey evaluation perceived increased levels of knowledge and confidence regarding APES. The areas of greatest increases were reported in assessing risk for non-athletes, evaluating for common signs and symptoms, and sharing relevant information. 
  • A large majority of learners (86%) reported being very satisfied or extremely satisfied with the training activity.  Learners also reported that the activity exceeded (47%) or greatly exceeded (28%) their expectations. Despite significant promotion, participation was low.
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