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The Value of E-Learning for the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections

  • Sonia O. Labeau (a1), Jordi Rello (a2), George Dimopoulos (a3), Jeffrey Lipman (a4), Aklime Sarikaya (a5), Candan Oztürk (a5), Dominique M. Vandijck (a6), Dirk Vogelaers (a7), Koenraad Vandewoude (a7), Stijn I. Blot (a4) (a7) and for the EVIDENCE Research Team...



Healthcare workers (HCWs) lack familiarity with evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). There is good evidence that effective educational interventions help to facilitate guideline implementation, so we investigated whether e-learning could enhance HCW knowledge of HAI prevention guidelines.


We developed an electronic course (e-course) and tested its usability and content validity. An international sample of voluntary learners submitted to a pretest (T0) that determined their baseline knowledge of guidelines, and they subsequently studied the e-course. Immediately after studying the course, posttest 1 (T1) assessed the immediate learning effect. After 3 months, during which participants had no access to the course, a second posttest (T2) evaluated the residual learning effect.


A total of 3,587 HCWs representing 79 nationalities enrolled: 2,590 HCWs (72%) completed T0; 1,410 HCWs (39%) completed T1; and 1,011 HCWs (28%) completed T2. The median study time was 193 minutes (interquartile range [IQR], 96–306 minutes)

The median scores were 52% (IQR, 44%–62%) for T0, 80% (IQR, 68%–88%) for T1, and 74% (IQR, 64%–84%) for T2. The immediate learning effect (T0 vs T1) was +24% (IQR, 12%–34%; P<.001), and a residual effect (T0 vs T2) of +18% (IQR 8–28) remained (P<.001). A 200-minute study time was associated with a maximum immediate learning effect (28%). A study time >300 minutes yielded the greatest residual effect (24%).


Moderate time invested in e-learning yielded significant immediate and residual learning effects. Decision makers could consider promoting e-learning as a supporting tool in HAI prevention.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2016;37:1052–1059


Corresponding author

Address correspondence to Sonia Labeau, University College Ghent, Faculty of Education, Health and Social Work, 9000 Ghent, Belgium (


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