Investigating online interprofessional learning and communication using social network analysis: a study protocol
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Interprofessional education (IPE) via the use of online learning environments (OLEs) can help improve patient outcomes, interprofessional attitudes, and behaviors while providing education at a distance. Studies of interprofessional learning often examine communication and its relation to learning outcomes qualitatively. OLEs allow researchers to examine these communication patterns quantitatively, through social network analysis (SNA), and answer questions regarding the nature of communication between interprofessional learners and how this may impact interprofessional attitudes and behaviors. In this paper, we present a study that aims to track interprofessional communication within a cancer care course using SNA and examine how it relates to professional attitudes and collaboration. Using pre and post-course surveys as well as numerous SNA metrics derived from course discussion board posts, we hope to show how communication between interprofessional learners may mediate outcomes. This work will add to the existing IPE literature by providing an added quantitative layer to a largely qualitative literature and encourage future studies in this area.
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