Comprehensive evaluation of an online tobacco control continuing education course in Canada

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Introduction:To respond to the increasing need to build capacity for planning, implementing, and supporting tobacco control strategies, an evidence-based, online continuing education (CE) course aimed at Canadian public health professionals was developed. The purpose of this study was to comprehensively evaluate the course, Tobacco and Public Health: From Theory to Practice ( and McDonald's revision of Kirkpatrick's four-level evaluation model for training programs guided the evaluation design. A pre-, post-, and follow-up single group design assessed immediate reactions to course modules, knowledge change and retention, practice change, and overall perceived value of the course. Six external peer reviewers evaluated course module content.Results:Fifty-nine participants completed all three course modules and the final online questionnaire at time 3, representing a response rate of 78%. Significant knowledge gains occurred between times 1 and 2 (p < 0.001). Although time 3 scores remained higher than time 1 scores for each module (p < 0.001), they decreased significantly between times 2 and 3 (p < 0.001). The majority of participants (93%) felt the topics covered were useful to their daily work. All but one participant felt the course was a good investment of their time, and nearly all participants (97%) stated they would recommend the course to others. Peer reviewers found that module content flowed well and was comprehensive.Discussion:This comprehensive evaluation was valuable both for assessing whether course goals were achieved and for identifying areas for course improvement. We expect this design would be a useful model to evaluate other online continuing education courses.

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