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Inquiry. 2017 Jan 1;54:46958017732967. doi: 10.1177/0046958017732967.

A Qualitative Evaluation of an Online Expert-Facilitated Course on Tobacco Dependence Treatment.

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1 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada.
2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
3 Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
4 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Qualitative evaluations of courses prove difficult due to low response rates. Online courses may permit the analysis of qualitative feedback provided by health care providers (HCPs) during and after the course is completed. This study describes the use of qualitative methods for an online continuing medical education (CME) course through the analysis of HCP feedback for the purpose of quality improvement. We used formative and summative feedback from HCPs about their self-reported experiences of completing an online expert-facilitated course on tobacco dependence treatment (the Training Enhancement in Applied Cessation Counselling and Health [TEACH] Project). Phenomenological, inductive, and deductive approaches were applied to develop themes. QSR NVivo 11 was used to analyze the themes derived from free-text comments and responses to open-ended questions. A total of 277 out of 287 participants (96.5%) completed the course evaluations and provided 690 comments focused on how to improve the program. Five themes emerged from the formative evaluations: overall quality, content, delivery method, support, and time. The majority of comments (22.6%) in the formative evaluation expressed satisfaction with overall course quality. Suggestions for improvement were mostly for course content and delivery method (20.4% and 17.8%, respectively). Five themes emerged from the summative evaluation: feedback related to learning objectives, interprofessional collaboration, future topics of relevance, overall modifications, and overall satisfaction. Comments on course content, website function, timing, and support were the identified areas for improvement. This study provides a model to evaluate the effectiveness of online educational interventions. Significantly, this constructive approach to evaluation allows CME providers to take rapid corrective action.


continuing; education; evaluation; health personnel; medical; online course; qualitative; quality improvement; self-report; tobacco use disorder

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