Mobile Digital Education for Health Professions: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by the Digital Health Education Collaboration

9 March, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

'The evidence base suggests that mLearning is as effective as traditional learning or possibly more so.' This is the conclusion of a new systematic review in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Citation and abstract below. Full text here: https://www.jmir.org/2019/2/e12937/

CITATION: Mobile Digital Education for Health Professions: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by the Digital Health Education Collaboration

Gerard Dunleavy; Charoula Konstantia Nikolaou; Sokratis Nifakos; Rifat Atun; Gloria Chun Yi Law1; Lorainne Tudor Car

J Med Internet Res 2019;21(2):e12937

ABSTRACT

Background: There is a pressing need to implement efficient and cost-effective training to address the worldwide shortage of health professionals. Mobile digital education (mLearning) has been mooted as a potential solution to increase the delivery of health professions education as it offers the opportunity for wide access at low cost and flexibility with the portability of mobile devices. To better inform policy making, we need to determine the effectiveness of mLearning.

Objective: The primary objective of this review was to evaluate the effectiveness of mLearning interventions for delivering health professions education in terms of learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and satisfaction.

Methods: We performed a systematic review of the effectiveness of mLearning in health professions education using standard Cochrane methodology. We searched 7 major bibliographic databases from January 1990 to August 2017 and included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or cluster RCTs.

Results: A total of 29 studies, including 3175 learners, met the inclusion criteria. A total of 25 studies were RCTs and 4 were cluster RCTs. Interventions comprised tablet or smartphone apps, personal digital assistants, basic mobile phones, iPods, and Moving Picture Experts Group-1 audio layer 3 player devices to deliver learning content. A total of 20 studies assessed knowledge (n=2469) and compared mLearning or blended learning to traditional learning or another form of digital education. The pooled estimate of studies favored mLearning over traditional learning for knowledge (standardized mean difference [SMD]=0.43, 95% CI 0.05-0.80, N=11 studies, low-quality evidence). There was no difference between blended learning and traditional learning for knowledge (SMD=0.20, 95% CI –0.47 to 0.86, N=6 studies, low-quality evidence). A total of 14 studies assessed skills (n=1097) and compared mLearning or blended learning to traditional learning or another form of digital education. The pooled estimate of studies favored mLearning (SMD=1.12, 95% CI 0.56-1.69, N=5 studies, moderate quality evidence) and blended learning (SMD=1.06, 95% CI 0.09-2.03, N=7 studies, low-quality evidence) over traditional learning for skills. A total of 5 and 4 studies assessed attitudes (n=440) and satisfaction (n=327), respectively, with inconclusive findings reported for each outcome. The risk of bias was judged as high in 16 studies.

Conclusions: The evidence base suggests that mLearning is as effective as traditional learning or possibly more so. Although acknowledging the heterogeneity among the studies, this synthesis provides encouraging early evidence to strengthen efforts aimed at expanding health professions education using mobile devices in order to help tackle the global shortage of health professionals.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, mHIFA Project (Mobile Healthcare Information For All)

http://www.hifa.org/projects/mobile-hifa-mhifa

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org