Physiotherapy students' perspectives of online e-learning for interdisciplinary management of chronic health conditions: A qualitative study
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© 2016 Gardner et al. Background: To qualitatively explore physiotherapy students' perceptions of online e-learning for chronic disease management using a previously developed, innovative and interactive, evidence-based, e-learning package: Rheumatoid Arthritis for Physiotherapists e-Learning (RAP-eL). Methods: Physiotherapy students participated in three focus groups in Perth, Western Australia. Purposive sampling was employed to ensure maximum heterogeneity across age, gender and educational background. To explore students' perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of online e-learning, ways to enhance e-learning, and information/learning gaps in relation to interdisciplinary management of chronic health conditions, a semi-structured interview schedule was developed. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using inductive methods within a grounded theory approach to derive key themes. Results: Twenty-three students (78 % female; 39 % with previous tertiary qualification) of mean (SD) age 23 (3.6) years participated. Students expressed a preference for a combination of both online e-learning and lecture-style learning formats for chronic disease management, citing flexibility to work at one's own pace and time, and access to comprehensive information as advantages of e-learning learning. Personal interaction and ability to clarify information immediately were considered advantages of lecture-style formats. Perceived knowledge gaps included practical application of interdisciplinary approaches to chronic disease management and developing and implementing physiotherapy management plans for people with chronic health conditions. Conclusions: Physiotherapy students preferred multi-modal and blended formats for learning about chronic disease management. This study highlights the need for further development of practically-oriented knowledge and skills related to interdisciplinary care for people with chronic conditions among physiotherapy students. While RAP-eL focuses on rheumatoid arthritis, the principles of learning apply to the broader context of chronic disease management.
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