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      Effective in-service training design and delivery: evidence from an integrative literature review

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          In-service training represents a significant financial investment for supporting continued competence of the health care workforce. An integrative review of the education and training literature was conducted to identify effective training approaches for health worker continuing professional education (CPE) and what evidence exists of outcomes derived from CPE.


          A literature review was conducted from multiple databases including PubMed, the Cochrane Library and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) between May and June 2011. The initial review of titles and abstracts produced 244 results. Articles selected for analysis after two quality reviews consisted of systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and programme evaluations published in peer-reviewed journals from 2000 to 2011 in the English language. The articles analysed included 37 systematic reviews and 32 RCTs. The research questions focused on the evidence supporting educational techniques, frequency, setting and media used to deliver instruction for continuing health professional education.


          The evidence suggests the use of multiple techniques that allow for interaction and enable learners to process and apply information. Case-based learning, clinical simulations, practice and feedback are identified as effective educational techniques. Didactic techniques that involve passive instruction, such as reading or lecture, have been found to have little or no impact on learning outcomes. Repetitive interventions, rather than single interventions, were shown to be superior for learning outcomes. Settings similar to the workplace improved skill acquisition and performance. Computer-based learning can be equally or more effective than live instruction and more cost efficient if effective techniques are used. Effective techniques can lead to improvements in knowledge and skill outcomes and clinical practice behaviours, but there is less evidence directly linking CPE to improved clinical outcomes. Very limited quality data are available from low- to middle-income countries.


          Educational techniques are critical to learning outcomes. Targeted, repetitive interventions can result in better learning outcomes. Setting should be selected to support relevant and realistic practice and increase efficiency. Media should be selected based on the potential to support effective educational techniques and efficiency of instruction. CPE can lead to improved learning outcomes if effective techniques are used. Limited data indicate that there may also be an effect on improving clinical practice behaviours. The research agenda calls for well-constructed evaluations of culturally appropriate combinations of technique, setting, frequency and media, developed for and tested among all levels of health workers in low- and middle-income countries.

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          Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world.

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            The integrative review: updated methodology.

            The aim of this paper is to distinguish the integrative review method from other review methods and to propose methodological strategies specific to the integrative review method to enhance the rigour of the process. Recent evidence-based practice initiatives have increased the need for and the production of all types of reviews of the literature (integrative reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and qualitative reviews). The integrative review method is the only approach that allows for the combination of diverse methodologies (for example, experimental and non-experimental research), and has the potential to play a greater role in evidence-based practice for nursing. With respect to the integrative review method, strategies to enhance data collection and extraction have been developed; however, methods of analysis, synthesis, and conclusion drawing remain poorly formulated. A modified framework for research reviews is presented to address issues specific to the integrative review method. Issues related to specifying the review purpose, searching the literature, evaluating data from primary sources, analysing data, and presenting the results are discussed. Data analysis methods of qualitative research are proposed as strategies that enhance the rigour of combining diverse methodologies as well as empirical and theoretical sources in an integrative review. An updated integrative review method has the potential to allow for diverse primary research methods to become a greater part of evidence-based practice initiatives.
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              Features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to effective learning: a BEME systematic review.

              1969 to 2003, 34 years. Simulations are now in widespread use in medical education and medical personnel evaluation. Outcomes research on the use and effectiveness of simulation technology in medical education is scattered, inconsistent and varies widely in methodological rigor and substantive focus. Review and synthesize existing evidence in educational science that addresses the question, 'What are the features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to most effective learning?'. The search covered five literature databases (ERIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Timelit) and employed 91 single search terms and concepts and their Boolean combinations. Hand searching, Internet searches and attention to the 'grey literature' were also used. The aim was to perform the most thorough literature search possible of peer-reviewed publications and reports in the unpublished literature that have been judged for academic quality. Four screening criteria were used to reduce the initial pool of 670 journal articles to a focused set of 109 studies: (a) elimination of review articles in favor of empirical studies; (b) use of a simulator as an educational assessment or intervention with learner outcomes measured quantitatively; (c) comparative research, either experimental or quasi-experimental; and (d) research that involves simulation as an educational intervention. Data were extracted systematically from the 109 eligible journal articles by independent coders. Each coder used a standardized data extraction protocol. Qualitative data synthesis and tabular presentation of research methods and outcomes were used. Heterogeneity of research designs, educational interventions, outcome measures and timeframe precluded data synthesis using meta-analysis. Coding accuracy for features of the journal articles is high. The extant quality of the published research is generally weak. The weight of the best available evidence suggests that high-fidelity medical simulations facilitate learning under the right conditions. These include the following: providing feedback--51 (47%) journal articles reported that educational feedback is the most important feature of simulation-based medical education; repetitive practice--43 (39%) journal articles identified repetitive practice as a key feature involving the use of high-fidelity simulations in medical education; curriculum integration--27 (25%) journal articles cited integration of simulation-based exercises into the standard medical school or postgraduate educational curriculum as an essential feature of their effective use; range of difficulty level--15 (14%) journal articles address the importance of the range of task difficulty level as an important variable in simulation-based medical education; multiple learning strategies--11 (10%) journal articles identified the adaptability of high-fidelity simulations to multiple learning strategies as an important factor in their educational effectiveness; capture clinical variation--11 (10%) journal articles cited simulators that capture a wide variety of clinical conditions as more useful than those with a narrow range; controlled environment--10 (9%) journal articles emphasized the importance of using high-fidelity simulations in a controlled environment where learners can make, detect and correct errors without adverse consequences; individualized learning--10 (9%) journal articles highlighted the importance of having reproducible, standardized educational experiences where learners are active participants, not passive bystanders; defined outcomes--seven (6%) journal articles cited the importance of having clearly stated goals with tangible outcome measures that will more likely lead to learners mastering skills; simulator validity--four (3%) journal articles provided evidence for the direct correlation of simulation validity with effective learning. While research in this field needs improvement in terms of rigor and quality, high-fidelity medical simulations are educationally effective and simulation-based education complements medical education in patient care settings.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Jhpiego Corporation, 1615 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA
                [2 ]Independent Consultant, San Diego, CA, USA
                [3 ]Research Assistant, Baltimore, MD, USA
                Hum Resour Health
                Hum Resour Health
                Human Resources for Health
                BioMed Central
                1 October 2013
                : 11
                : 51
                Copyright © 2013 Bluestone et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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