PURPOSE: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision impairment. This randomised placebo-controlled trial investigated whether point-of-care tools can improve optometrists' AMD knowledge and/or care provision.
METHODS: Australian optometrists (n = 31) completed a demographics survey and theoretical AMD case study multiple-choice questions (MCQs) to assess their confidence in AMD care provision and AMD knowledge. Participants were then randomly assigned to one of three point-of-care tools (online 'Classification of Age-related macular degeneration and Risk Assessment Tool' (CARAT), paper CARAT, or 'placebo') to use when providing care to their subsequent 5-10 AMD patients. Participants self-audited the compliance of their AMD care to best practice for these patients, and a similar number of consecutive patients seen prior to enrolment. Post-intervention, participants retook the AMD knowledge MCQs and confidence survey.
RESULTS: A total of 29 participants completed the study. At the study endpoint, clinical confidence relative to baseline improved with the paper CARAT, relative to placebo, for knowledge of AMD risk factors, asking patients about these factors and referring for medical retinal sub-specialist care. There were no between-group differences for the change in AMD knowledge scores. Considering record documentation for patients with any AMD severity, there were no significant between-group differences for documenting patient risk factors, AMD severity, clinical examination techniques or management. In a sub-analysis, the change from baseline in compliance for documenting discussions about patient smoking behaviours for early AMD patients was higher with use of the online CARAT relative to placebo (p = 0.04). For patients with intermediate AMD, the change from baseline in documenting the risk of progression to late AMD was greater among practitioners who used the paper CARAT, relative to placebo (p = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that point-of-care clinical tools can improve practitioner confidence and aspects of the documentation of AMD clinical care by optometrists as assessed by self-audit.