Improving Skin Cancer Diagnostics Through a Mobile App With a Large Interactive Image Repository: Randomized Controlled Trial

Gustav Gede Nervil*, Niels Kvorning Ternov, Tine Vestergaard, Henrik Sølvsten, Annette Hougaard Chakera, Martin Grønnebæk Tolsgaard, Lisbet Rosenkrantz Hölmich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Skin cancer diagnostics is challenging, and mastery requires extended periods of dedicated practice. Objective: The aim of the study was to determine if self-paced pattern recognition training in skin cancer diagnostics with clinical and dermoscopic images of skin lesions using a large-scale interactive image repository (LIIR) with patient cases improves primary care physicians’ (PCPs’) diagnostic skills and confidence. Methods: A total of 115 PCPs were randomized (allocation ratio 3:1) to receive or not receive self-paced pattern recognition training in skin cancer diagnostics using an LIIR with patient cases through a quiz-based smartphone app during an 8-day period. The participants’ ability to diagnose skin cancer was evaluated using a 12-item multiple-choice questionnaire prior to and 8 days after the educational intervention period. Their thoughts on the use of dermoscopy were assessed using a study-specific questionnaire. A learning curve was calculated through the analysis of data from the mobile app. Results: On average, participants in the intervention group spent 2 hours 26 minutes quizzing digital patient cases and 41 minutes reading the educational material. They had an average preintervention multiple choice questionnaire score of 52.0% of correct answers, which increased to 66.4% on the postintervention test; a statistically significant improvement of 14.3 percentage points (P<.001; 95% CI 9.8-18.9) with intention-to-treat analysis. Analysis of participants who received the intervention as per protocol (500 patient cases in 8 days) showed an average increase of 16.7 percentage points (P<.001; 95% CI 11.3-22.0) from 53.9% to 70.5%. Their overall ability to correctly recognize malignant lesions in the LIIR patient cases improved over the intervention period by 6.6 percentage points from 67.1% (95% CI 65.2-69.3) to 73.7% (95% CI 72.5-75.0) and their ability to set the correct diagnosis improved by 10.5 percentage points from 42.5% (95% CI 40.2%-44.8%) to 53.0% (95% CI 51.3-54.9). The diagnostic confidence of participants in the intervention group increased on a scale from 1 to 4 by 32.9% from 1.6 to 2.1 (P<.001). Participants in the control group did not increase their postintervention score or their diagnostic confidence during the same period. Conclusions: Self-paced pattern recognition training in skin cancer diagnostics through the use of a digital LIIR with patient cases delivered by a quiz-based mobile app improves the diagnostic accuracy of PCPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48357
JournalJMIR Dermatology
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 9. Aug 2023


  • benign skin tumors
  • dermoscopy
  • diagnostic test
  • digital learning
  • eLearning
  • medical education
  • melanoma
  • mHealth
  • mobile app
  • nevi
  • recognition training
  • skin cancer
  • skin lesions
  • skin neoplasms


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