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.

Competency-based curriculum, Distance education, Effectiveness, Family health, Online problem-based learning, Web-based education,
Education for Health: Change in Learning and Practice
Department of Psychology

Cisne Tomaz, J.B, Mamede, S, Coelho-Filho, J.M, de Filho, J.S.R, & van der Molen, H.T. (2015). Effectiveness of an online problem-based learning curriculum for training family medical doctors in Brazil. Education for Health: Change in Learning and Practice, 28(3), 187–193. doi:10.4103/1357-6283.178605