Aims: Variation in health-care is undesirable, as this is potentially harmful for patients. In the Netherlands, an e-learning module was developed to standardise pathological evaluation of colorectal adenomas. We studied the effect of e-learning on interlaboratory variability in grading of dysplasia in screened conventional colorectal adenomas. Methods and results: A cross-sectional retrospective study was performed, including all colorectal adenomas from the Dutch population-based colorectal cancer screening programme, retrieved from the Dutch Pathology Registry (PALGA) from January 2014 to July 2015. The e-learning tool, commissioned by the National Institute for Public Health, was implemented among screening pathologists from October 2014. Proportions of high-grade dysplasia (HGD) were compared before (January–July 2014) and after implementation (October 2014–July 2015) of the e-learning module. Interlaboratory variation was assessed by multilevel mixed-effects analysis. In total, 20 713 colonoscopies (20 546 patients) were performed after a positive faecal immunochemical screening test, resulting in the inclusion of 56 355 conventional adenomas from 37 pathology laboratories. Before implementation, 12 614 adenomas were diagnosed, including 4.3% with HGD. After implementation, 43 741 adenomas were diagnosed, and the HGD proportion decreased to 3.9%. Univariable analysis showed less deviant proportions of HGD after implementation in 62% of the laboratories (P = 0.019). Multilevel analysis confirmed decreased variation in the risk of diagnosing HGD (P = 0.021). Conclusions: Interlaboratory variability in grading HGD in colorectal adenomas after a positive screening test decreased after implementation of an e-learning module for pathologists. We therefore conclude that e-learning has a favourable influence on decreasing diagnostic variability, making this a relevant strategy for health-care standardisation.

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Keywords colorectal adenoma, e-learning, grading dysplasia, standardisation, variability
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Series VSNU Open Access deal
Journal Histopathology
Note corresponding author at UMC
Madani, A., Kuijpers, C., Sluijter, C. E., von der Thusen, JH, Grünberg, K, Lemmens, V.E.P.P, … Nagtegaal, I.D. (2019). Decrease of variation in the grading of dysplasia in colorectal adenomas with a national e-learning module. Histopathology, 74(6), 925–932. doi:10.1111/his.13834