Accelerating digital health literacy for the treatment of growth disorders: The impact of a massive open online course

Paul Dimitri, Luis Fernandez-Luque, Ekaterina Koledova, Shwetambara Malwade, Shabbir Syed-Abdul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a rare disorder characterized by inadequate secretion of growth hormone (GH) from the anterior pituitary gland. One of the challenges in optimizing GH therapy is improving adherence. Using digital interventions may overcome barriers to optimum treatment delivery. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), first introduced in 2008, are courses made available over the internet without charge to a large number of people. Here, we describe a MOOC aiming to improve digital health literacy among healthcare professionals managing patients with GHD. Based on pre- and post-course assessments, we evaluate the improvement in participants’ knowledge upon completion of the MOOC. Methods: The MOOC entitled ‘Telemedicine: Tools to Support Growth Disorders in a Post-COVID Era’ was launched in 2021. It was designed to cover 4 weeks of online learning with an expected commitment of 2 h per week, and with two courses running per year. Learners’ knowledge was assessed using pre- and post-course surveys via the FutureLearn platform. Results: Out of 219 learners enrolled in the MOOC, 31 completed both the pre- and post-course assessments. Of the evaluated learners, 74% showed improved scores in the post-course assessment, resulting in a mean score increase of 21.3%. No learner achieved 100% in the pre-course assessment, compared with 12 learners (40%) who achieved 100% in the post-course assessment. The highest score increase comparing the pre- and the post-course assessments was 40%, observed in 16% of learners. There was a statistically significant improvement in post-course assessment scores from 58.1 ± 18.9% to 72.6 ± 22.4% reflecting an improvement of 14.5% (p < 0.0005) compared to the pre-course assessment. Conclusion: This “first-of-its-kind” MOOC can improve digital health literacy in the management of growth disorders. This is a crucial step toward improving the digital capability and confidence of healthcare providers and users, and to prepare them for the technological innovations in the field of growth disorders and growth hormone therapy, with the aim of improving patient care and experience. MOOCs provide an innovative, scalable and ubiquitous solution to train large numbers of healthcare professionals in limited resource settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1043584
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • digital health
  • growth hormone deficiency
  • massive open online course
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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