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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 187-193

Effectiveness of an online Problem-Based learning curriculum for training family medical doctors in Brazil

1 Center for Educational Development in Health, School of Public Health of Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
2 Department of Psychology, Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam, Erasmus Medical Center, Education and Child Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Federal University of Ceará, Ceará, Brazil
4 Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence Address:
Jose Batista Cisne Tomaz
Av. Beira Mar, 4344, Apto. 1102, Mucuripe, Fortaleza-Ce CEP: 60.165-121
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.178605

Background: Problem-based learning (PBL) and distance education (DE) have been combined as educational approaches in higher education. This combination has been called distributed PBL. In health professions education it has been called online PBL (OPBL). However, more research on the effectiveness of OPBL is needed. The present study aims at evaluating the effectiveness of an OPBL curriculum for training family medical doctors in Brazil. Methods: We used a pretest–posttest control group design in this study. Thirty family physician participants were non-randomly assigned to the experimental group and the same number to the control group. Three instruments for collecting data were used: A multiple choice question knowledge test, an Objective Structural Clinical Examination (OSCE) for assessing the ability to apply the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) and a test based on clinical cases for assessing the ability to make an adequate differential diagnosis of dementia. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and univariate tests were conducted to see if the difference between the two groups was significant. The effect size was measured by Cohen's d. Results: A total of 50 participants completed the study. The results show significant effects of the course on participants' knowledge and diagnostic skills. Discussion: The results may indicate that innovative pedagogical approaches such as PBL can be effective in an online environment in a low-resources context, with the advantages of DE approach.

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