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Phase One

A systematic review of internet/computer based learning interventions for training health care professionals to deliver a clinical intervention.


Synthesise evidence on the effects of e-training among health care professionals.

Research Questions

1. Are online/computer based learning interventions as effective as traditional (non-computer) educational interventions, for training health care professionals with the knowledge and skills to deliver a clinical intervention?

2. What components of an internet/computer based learning programme enhance health care professionals learning with regard to knowledge, skill and clinical behaviour?


Databases: MEDLINE (Ovid); CINAHL (Ovid); EMBASE (Ovid); AMED (Ovid); Pedro (physiotherapy evidence database); The Cochrane Library and ASSIA were searched from 2000-October 2011. RCT’s evaluating e-training compared to traditional training for health professionals were included. The Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care risk of bias tool was used to assess methodological quality. Study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment were completed independently. Data were synthesised qualitatively.


10 studies were included. Trials were in a range of health professionals, including physiotherapists, and the main outcomes were knowledge, practical skills and clinical behaviour. All studies reported that between-group differences on outcomes of interest were non-significant. However, sample sizes were small, and all studies included at least a moderate risk of bias. Interventions were poorly reported in terms of both their content and development.

Nine studies investigated training in a single skill or factual knowledge with only one study investigating the use of e-learning to train clinicians in a complex intervention (Sholomskas, 2005). The development of the intervention in Sholomskas (2005) was not described, and their randomisation process failed, with over half of their participants allocated by choice. Thus, the effectiveness of e-learning for training health care professionals to deliver a complex intervention, such as BeST, has not been established.


The results suggest no significant differences between online learning and traditional methods. However, the research in this field was of poor methodological quality and little is known about the interventions themselves. Future research is needed to evaluate online learning for training health professionals to deliver a complex clinical intervention.

The stage of this project will involve the development of an online training resource for health care professionals that will be subsequently be evaluated using mixed methodology, helping to expand the literature in this field.

Click here to view phase Two.