Making the Most of Continuing Medical Education: Evidence of Transformative Learning During a Course in Evidence-Based Medicine and Decision Making

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Abstract

Introduction:

Continuing medical information courses have been criticized for not promoting behavior change among their participants. For behavior change to occur, participants often need to consciously reject previous ideas and transform their way of thinking. Transformational learning is a process that cultivates deep emotional responses and can lead to cognitive and behavioral change in learners, potentially facilitating rich learning experiences and expediting knowledge translation. We explored participants' experiences at a 2-day conference designed to support transformative learning as they encounter new concepts within Information Mastery, which challenge their previous frameworks around the topic of medical decision making. Using the lens of transformative learning theory, we asked: how does Information Mastery qualitatively promote perspective transformation and hence behavior change?

Methods:

We used a hermeneutic phenomenologic approach to capture the lived experience of 12 current and nine previous attendees of the “Information Mastery” course through individual interviews, focus groups, and observation. Data were thematically analyzed.

Results:

Both prevoius and current conference attendees described how the delivery of new concepts about medical decision making evoked strong emotional responses, facilitated personal transformation, and propelled expedited behavior change around epistemological, moral, and information management themes, resulting in a newfound sense of self-efficacy, confidence, and ownership in their ability to make medical decisions.

Discussion:

When the topic area holds the potential to foster a qualitative reframing of learners' guiding paradigms and worldviews, attention should be paid to supporting learners' personalized meaning-making process through transformative learning opportunities to promote translation into practice.

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