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Violeta Iotova, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Petra Bruegmann, Manuela Broesamle, Natasa Bratina, Vallo Tillmann, Olaf Hiort, and Alberto M Pereira

Objective

The European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN), operational since 2017, consists of 71 health care providers (HCPs) in 19 EU member states. Our objective was to assess education and knowledge on rare endocrine conditions.

Design and methods

A survey was developed and sent through the DIGIT-EUROSURVEY system to all Endo-ERN HCPs.

Results

Response rate was 55% (n = 146), 95% physicians, 58% >20 years of experience, 96% academics. Largest knowledge gaps were reported for the transition and neonatal ages, and for the GPs. Less than 50% of HCPs had structured educational rare diseases (RD) plans, while 86% used RD specific guidelines. HCPs would share educational materials within Endo-ERN (74%), and participate in an accreditation model (85%). E-learning portals of the endocrine scientific societies used 58% (ESPE) and 64% (ESE). Most participants (90%) regarded Endo-ERN coordinated educational activities (annual meetings slots, webinars, etc.) as highly important and supported a common educational platform. Social media was perceived as important for educating patients (86%) but not for physicians (36%). Seventy-five % had developed patient education materials; only 31% had specific children’s materials, and by-country availability varied from 0 to 100%. Respondents provided newly diagnosed patients with their own material in the national language (81%); referred to advocacy groups (68%), and relevant online sources (50%). Respondents believed the European Commission should fund education through Endo-ERN.

Conclusion

Identified knowledge gaps in rare endocrine disorders set the basis for fast catch-up through collaboration, alignment with patients’ needs, and further development of existing and newly developed educational resources.