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A rapid review of the effectiveness of alternative education delivery strategies in medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy education during the COVID-19 pandemic

Carrier, Judith ORCID:, Edwards, Deborah ORCID:, Tombs, Michal ORCID:, Lewis, Ruth, Gillen, Elizabeth ORCID:, Riley, Stephen, Cooper, Alison ORCID: and Edwards, Adrian ORCID: 2022. A rapid review of the effectiveness of alternative education delivery strategies in medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy education during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Online]. medRxiv: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Available at:

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Background: Education delivery in higher education institutions was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with emergency remote teaching developed and adapted promptly for the circumstances. This rapid review investigated the effectiveness of alternative education delivery strategies during the pandemic for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students, to help plan and adapt further education provision. Methods: We included 23 primary studies in undergraduate education, all published in 2020-2021, no relevant UK-based or postgraduate studies were found. Included studies comprised 10 single cohort descriptive; 11 comparative descriptive; and two RCTs. There was considerable variability in terms of students, type of distance learning, platforms used and outcome measures. Results: In medicine (n=14), self-reported competency and confidence, and demonstrable suturing skills were achieved through participating in remote learning. However, lower levels of knowledge were obtained by students who received virtual or blended learning compared to in-person teaching (low-very low confidence). Using bespoke interactive platforms in undergraduate medical training was superior to standard video (low confidence) or textbook presentations (very low confidence). In dentistry (n=2), remote learning led to knowledge gained (low confidence), but self-reported practical and interpersonal skills were lower with remote rather than in-person learning (very low confidence). In nursing (n=3), remote learning, when compared to in-person, resulted in similar knowledge and self-reported competency levels (very low confidence) pre-COVID, but confidence was higher when learning or assessment was conducted virtually (low confidence). In pharmacy (n=4), virtual learning was associated with higher skills, but lower knowledge compared to in-person, pre-COVID; self-reported competency and confidence scores were similar between the two groups (very low confidence). Conclusions: Remote teaching was valued, and learning was achieved, but the comparative effectiveness of virtual versus in-person teaching is less clear. Supplementary alternative or in-person practical sessions may be required post-emergency to address learning needs for some disadvantaged student groups.

Item Type: Website Content
Date Type: Submission
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Prime Centre Wales (PRIME)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Funders: Health and Care Research Wales, Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 January 2024
Date of Acceptance: 7 March 2022
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2024 01:06

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