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J Eval Clin Pract. 2014 Oct;20(5):606-10. doi: 10.1111/jep.12169. Epub 2014 May 15.

The feasibility of e-learning as a quality improvement tool.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.



Many quality problems exist in health care. We aim to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of using e-learning (defined as computer-based learning modules) to address gaps in quality of care.


We performed a qualitative evaluation of participants in a pilot e-learning program. Physician members of six medical teaching units (MTUs) at a multi-site tertiary care teaching hospital were asked to complete two e-learning modules addressing hand hygiene practices and management of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). An e-learning design team created online modules that were made available to members of the six MTUs for 4 weeks using a password secured website. Use of the modules was voluntary. Participants' perceptions of module content, mode of delivery, and suggestions for improvement were determined through focus groups. We then performed content analysis on the transcripts. We used system data to define patterns of module access.


Out of 55 eligible users, 30 (55%) logged onto the system at least once. Residents (14/30, 47%) were less likely to use the system than medical students (9/14, 64%) and attending staff (7/11, 64%). Learners at all levels thought the modules were easy to use. Participants liked the knowledge-based material in the CAP module because it directly applied to their work. There were less favourable opinions of the hand hygiene module


Generating e-learning modules targeted at gaps in quality of care is feasible and acceptable to learners. Future studies should assess whether these approaches lead to desired changes in behavior.

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


e-learning; education; hand washing; patient safety; pneumonia

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