BACKGROUND & PURPOSE: Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the healthcare system and the development of technology has dictated that clinicians learn about ways to improve quality of care over the course of their careers. Yet there has been little study of the association between the process of rehabilitation education and quality care. The objective of this study is to measure the utilization of web-based rehabilitation research training by measuring short- and mid-term impacts on knowledge and attitudes of clinicians. In particular, this study examines the effect of a web-based training (WBT) program on clinician knowledge of manual wheelchair technology, and attitudes towards practice for professionals recommending seating and wheeled mobility equipment. Furthermore, building on our previous work we compare the effectiveness of a two-day traditional continuing education (TCE) program and a WBT program.
METHODS: A web-based training (WBT) intervention tailored for clinicians responsible for recommending manual wheelchair technologies was designed synthesizing “best practice” and “state of the science” research literature pertaining to seating and mobility for manual wheelchair users. A pretest-post test design with control group was employed using a convenience sample (39 WBT, 28 Control). Two measures designed to detect change in clinical knowledge, and attitudes were administered before, after and 6 months following the intervention. The control group completed the knowledge measure at time of initial contact, and 6 months later. Historical data with a sample of 89 TCE subjects were used to compare the effectiveness of delivery methods (traditional vs. web based training).
RESULTS: A significant improvement in Knowledge scores was seen immediately after and 6 months following WBT. Changes in Knowledge scores over time were different in the WBT group compared to the TCE group (p= .000, partial eta2 = .060) indicating that the two training methods did not result in similar changes in Knowledge scores. However, both had a net result of increased Knowledge scores. Between group differences were significant for pretest (p=.009) and posttest (p=.011) but not follow-up. There was no interaction between changes in attitude across groups for the Confidence, Independence and Leadership domains. The lack of an interaction indicates that attitude changes were similar across training methods indicating WBT as an equally effective means of training. The WBT group reported greater feelings of Independence and Leadership but no change in Confidence or Resourcefulness.
CONCLUSIONS: WBT resulted in positive changes in Knowledge over time. WBT also had a positive impact on the attitude domains of Independence and Leadership. Comparison between WBT and TCE indicated that both offer comparable benefits but the TCE had a little greater impact on attitude changes. Overall, evidence suggests that WBT has utility as a knowledge transfer mechanism.