E-learning programs for hospital based nurses
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E-learning is emerging as an increasingly popular methodology for the delivery of continuing education (CE) for nurses. However, there is a lack of theoretically driven research that examines the effectiveness of e-learning programs for hospital nurses. The purpose of this study was to use the Kirkpatrick Theory (Kirkpatrick, 1994) to evaluate an existing e-learning program for hospital nurses, “Preventing CAUTIs” (as an exemplar) to examine outcomes associated with e-learning programs for hospital nurses. Nurses were recruited from a large metropolitan hospital that has been using e-learning for CE for their hospital based nurses for 10 years. The study was a theory driven, mixed methods design that used surveys, tests, and patient outcomes as measures to determine the effectiveness of the e-learning program exemplar, Preventing CAUTIs. Data was collected at three time points: before the e-learning program, immediately after the e-learning program completion, and one month after the e-learning program completion. There were 48 nurses enrolled in the study, 46 who completed all elements. The findings were that nurses enjoyed the e-learning program. Their test scores had a statistically significant increase from pre-test to post-test 1 (p<0.001) and from pre-test to post-test 2 (p<0.001). Scores decreased at the one month time point (post-test 2) but remained statistically significant from pre-test scores (p<0.001). Thus, reflecting some gains immediately after e-learning program completion and knowledge retention at one month post e-learning program. The patient outcome of CAUTI rates was measured throughout the study time period and one month after e-learning program completion. CAUTI rates decreased in the entire time period following the e-learning program implementation. Nurses self-reported that they were confident, committed, and motivated to utilize the e-learning program in their nursing practice. This was the first study with an e-learning program for hospital nurses to employ an entirely theory driven design that examined all aspects of the theory utilized. This study provided evidence that Kirkpatrick (1994) theory is a useful theory for use in examination of e-learning programs for nurses. Future use of this theory should incorporate measures of all of the four steps (reaction, learning, behavior, and results) and the concepts of climate and rewards. Other areas of future research include: examination of knowledge and patient outcomes beyond one month post e-learning program completion and more open-ended research questions to examine the concepts of rewards and climate.