Research Project: Building healthcare capacity and patient empowerment through Patient-Initiated Continuing Medical Education (PICME) on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis

Year(s): 2016-2018

Dr. Malika Sharma is currently pursuing a Master of Education at the University of Toronto.

Her research involves a patient-initiated Continuing Medical Education (CME) approach as a strategy to decentralize the delivery of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) education. Her study empowers patients to inform their primary care givers about a CME course on PrEP.

“I am looking to amplify the patient’s voice and to engage patients in research and education in a meaningful way,” says Dr. Sharma.

The immediate goal of Dr. Sharma’s study is to assess the number of individuals receiving PrEP as a result of CME. She will evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based CME program in increasing the ability of primary care providers to provide PrEP. Her supervisor is Dr. Darrell Tan (St. Michael’s Hospital).

In 2014, there were over 2,500 new HIV infections in Canada. According to two recent studies, PROUD and IPERGAY (CTN 268), PrEP can prevent the risk of acquiring HIV by 86%, yet use remains low despite patient demand. Survey results have demonstrated that primary care providers feel they lack the knowledge and capacity to deliver PrEP. As a result, PrEP is most often prescribed by HIV specialists, resulting in wait times as long as 51 days.

Dr. Sharma earned her Bachelor of Health Sciences and Doctor of Medicine at McMaster University before going on to further projects at the University of Toronto.