E-learning for self-management support: introducing blended learning for graduate students - a cohort study

Virginia Munro, Andrea Morello, Candice Oster, Christine Redmond, Anna Vnuk, Sheila Lennon, Sharon Lawn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Background: E-learning allows delivery of education in many diverse settings and researchers have demonstrated it can be as effective as learning conducted in traditional face-to-face settings. However, there are particular practices and skills needed in the area of providing patient self-management support (SMS), that may not be achievable online. The aim of this study was to compare three approaches in the training of university students regarding the preparation of a Chronic Condition Self-Management Care Plan: 1) traditional face-to-face delivery of SMS training, 2) an e-learning approach and 3) a blended approach (combining e-learning and face-to-face teaching). 

Methods: Graduate entry physiotherapy students and medical students at Flinders University were recruited. Depending on the cohort, students were either exposed to traditional face-to-face training, e-learning or a blended model. Outcomes were compared between the three groups. We measured adherence to care plan processes in the preparation of an assessment piece using the Flinders Program Chronic Care Self Management tools. A total of 183 care plans were included (102 traditional, 52 blended, 29 e-learning,). All students submitted the Flinders Program Chronic Care Plan for university assessment and these were later assessed for quality by researchers. The submission was also assigned a consumer engagement score and a global competence score as these are integral to successful delivery of SMS and represent the patient perspective. 

Results: The blended group performed significantly better than the traditional group in quality use of the Flinders Program tools: Problem and Goals (P < 0.0001). They also performed significantly better in the total care plan score (P < 0.0001) and engagement score (P < 0.0001). There was no significant difference between the groups for the Partners in Health tool. 

Conclusions: In this pilot study, the blended learning model was a more effective method for teaching self-management skills than the traditional group, as assessed in the development of a chronic condition self-management care plan. We anticipate that future research with identical groups of students would yield similar results but in the meantime, academics can have confidence that blended learning is at least as effective as traditional learning methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number219
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2018


  • Blended learning
  • Chronic care
  • E-learning
  • Person-centred care
  • Self-management
  • Self-management support
  • Virtual learning


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