Utilising a problem-based learning approach in pre-hospital infection control training : a case study in the Hong Kong Ambulance Service

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- The researcher witnessed the 2003 SARS attack in Hong Kong, with valued healthcare workers amongst the sick and dead. The high infection rate of Hong Kong healthcare workers in the SARS attack indicated there were issues in the process of infection control. Research by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services in 1991 showed that healthcare providers habitually failed to follow the correct procedures in using personal protective equipment. Calabro, Bright and Kouzekanani (2000) also found in their research that medical students would "under-protect” themselves in infection control. These situations drove the researcher to critically rethink ways to help paramedics resolve these issues. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) has proven to be effective in medical training (Barrows, 2000). Moreover, it provides an antidote to the increasing fragmentation of information and knowledge and promotes the connectedness of ideas, information and knowledge. It also helps students learn how to learn and leads to sustainable learning (Barrows, 2000; Boud & Feletti, 1997). The current study attempted to adopt a PBL approach in infection control training in order to motivate paramedics to develop active self-directed learning and strengthen their problem-solving abilities in infection control issues, thus reducing the chance of infection. The principal focus of this study therefore lies in examining the effects of PBL in changing the learning motives and strategies of paramedics and strengthening their problem-solving abilities in infection control-related issues. The research findings showed that the adoption of a PBL-based curriculum made a significant impact on infection control training. In the pre- and post-course surveys, it was found that the effect of a PBL approach was statistically significant in changing the learning motives and strategies of paramedics in infection control training (95% confidence; p < 0.0005). Moreover, the pre- and post-course competence assessments demonstrated that respondents possessed better problem-solving abilities in infection control issues after training (95% confidence; p < 0.0005). Such an impact provides better learning conditions for respondents to meet the demands of medical education and their life-long learning.
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