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Table 2 Main aspects of the studies (n = 15) investigating effectiveness of technology in physiotherapy learning and teaching

From: Online technology use in physiotherapy teaching and learning: a systematic review of effectiveness and users’ perceptions

Study credentials Country Design Participants Intervention: Technology used, Theme/course, Length of the intervention Outcome measures (tool/method) Key findings Quality
Arroyo-Morales, 2012 [23] Spain RCT: Exp: ECOFISIO website, Con: books & texts 46 (28f) UG, 2nd Website; ‘Fundamentals of Physiotherapy’; 3 weeks Theoretical knowledge acquisition (multiple-choice questionnaire), skills acquisition: palpation and ultrasound imaging of the knee (structured objective clinical evaluation (SOCE)), No difference between groups in the acquisition of theoretical knowledge; Global SOCE scores higher for exp group; Exp group needed less time to palpate, took longer to acquire ultrasound image, but got higher scores for correctly positioning and managing the probe. 83
Cantarero-Villanueva, 2012 [24] Spain RCT: Exp: ECOFISIO website, Con: books & texts. 50 (29f) UG Website; ‘Fundamentals of Physiotherapy’: Palpation and ultrasound; 2 modules Skill of palpation and ultrasound imaging of lumbopelvic area (objectively structured clinical examination (OSCE)); Global scores for palpation and global scores of ultrasound examination significantly higher in the exp group; Exp group needed less time to obtain an ultrasound image. 83
Fry-Welch, 2004 [31] USA CS 64 (42f) DPT Threaded discussion; ‘Critical Evaluation of the Professional Literature’; 4 weeks Engagement (6 questions, 5-point Likert scale + additional comments) Threaded discussion was effective in getting students to read articles before the class, increasing active participation in reflective discussion of journal articles before the class, letting professor to target in-class discussion on difficult issues; Not effective in engaging reflection on other students’ comments. 100
Green, 2014 [28] Australia CS, TG 97 (campus1) +41 (campus 2) UG, 2nd Discussion forum; Gross a natomy for physiotherapy students; 1 semester Contribution of participation (number of posts), previous academic ability (prerequisit grade), and campus to final grade The total number of posts made a significant positive direct contribution to final grade. 100
Green, 2013 [29] Australia CS, TG 460 UG, 1st 137 UG, 2nd Discussion forum; Anatomy; 1 semester Contribution of a number of posts to the final grade In 1st year students, there was no relation between number of posts and final grade. 2nd year students who highly contributed (high number of posts) to the discussion forum obtained higher final grades. 100
Hayward, 2009 [34] USA CS (pre-post measurement) 104 (83f) DPT, 3rd Virtual learning environment: case scenarios, discussion board (+ other); ' Physical Therapy Professional Seminar I'; 15-weeks course Professional skill awareness (pre-post Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values survey) Significant improvement in students’ awareness of professional skills. 92
Huhn, 2011 [25] USA RCT: Exp: web-based cases, Con: text-based cases 36 UG Web-based simulation cases; 'Therapeutic Exercise'; 3 stimulation cases Clinical reasoning skills (Health science reasoning test (HSRT)), knowledge transfer (practical exam), time spent on case completion, implementation costs No significant difference between the groups in the total HSRT; Exp group scored better on practical exam, and spent less time per case. Cost of computerized simulation was lower in implementation. 67
Jones, 2010 [26] Canada, Hong Kong TG, RCT: Exp1: video-linked tutorials + web-based tutorials, Exp2: web-based tutorials, Con: lecture tutorial Canada: 35, Hong, Kong:37 Video link, web-based tutorials; Two topics: oxygen transport, manual hyperinflation (cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary physiotherapy); 3 weeks Knowledge (grades on objective short-answers quiz) No differences in mean scores for the two topics across the 3 intervention formats with an exception of web-based Hong Kong group which scored lower in oxygen transport. 67
Low, 2008 [30] USA CT: Exp: internship with virtual learning environment, Con: internship without virtual learning environment 81 PG Virtual learning environment: chat, threaded discussion, bulletin board, e-diary; 1 clinical internship Critical thinking skills (California CT Skills Test (CCTST) No differences in CCTST between groups. 100
Moore, 2012 [37] USA RCT: Exp: lecture + podcast demonstration, Con: lecture + live demonstration 33 DPT, 1st Video podcasts; Basic clinical skills: transfer and gait training; 3 weeks Cognitive performance (written test), psychomotor performance (scenario-based practical exam), study time (self-reported) No significant differences in written and practical exam scores between methods. Group receiving podcasts reported more group study time than live demonstration. 67
Pittenger, 2012 [35] USA CS 50 DPT,2nd Collaborative wikis; ‘Rehabilitation Pharmacotherapy’; 1 semester Learning (grades distribution in comparison to previous years) Grades distribution consistent with grades from previous years when technology was not used. 77
Plack, 2008 [33] USA CT Exp1: mentor-facilitated, Exp2: peer-facilitated 7 DPT, PG D iscussion board; A cute rehabilitation internship; 1 clinical rotation Reflective thinking and higher-order processing (number of entries to the discussion board, evidence in posts for reflective thinking and higher-order processing) No differences between groups in reflective thinking, and conclusion drawing; Exp1 group exhibited greater proportions of data gathering, and data analysis levels of higher-order thinking; Exp2 group submitted higher number of advice responses. 100
Preston, 2012 [27] Australia CT Exp: online teaching additional to usual teaching, Con: usual teaching 59 UG,2nd D igital repository; N eurological physiotherapy; 5-weeks + revision session Performance of practical skills (standardised marking schema) Exp group scored higher in the practical exam. 100
Rowe, 2012 [32] South Africa CS, TG 70 UG 3rd,4th Discussion board, social network, blogging; Clinical placements; 1 academic year Reflective reasoning (assignment related student-teacher, student-student, teacher-student interactions, thematic analysis) Evidence found for online social networks to develop reflective practices among students. 67
Tan, 2010 [36] Australia CS 45 UG, 4th (final) Blogging; Clinical placement Clinical reasoning and metacognition (content analysis, proof of event counts) Proof of a range of clinical reasoning and metacognitive skills. 83
  1. RCT randomised controlled trial, CT clinical trial, CS case study, TG two group design, UG undergraduate programme, DPT doctor of physical therapy programme, PG postgraduate programme, PR physiotherapy professionals, f female, Exp experimental group, Con control group, 2nd second year students, 3rd third year students, 4th fourth year students, 5th fifth year students