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Exploring taught masters education for healthcare practitioners: a systematic review of literature

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BACKGROUND: Masters-level education is a key pathway of professional development for healthcare practitioners. Whilst there is evidence that Masters-level education leads to career enhancement, it is unclear how the programme pedagogy contributes to this. The objective was to: (1) examine the programme pedagogies and context that supports learning, and (2) synthesise the outputs, outcomes and impact of Masters-level healthcare programmes. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted according to the Cochrane Collaboration handbook and is reported in line with PRISMA. Using pre-defined key terms and eligibility criteria, two reviewers independently searched Medline, ERIC, Web of Science, ProQuest, and CINAHL Plus databases from inception to 14th November 2016, reference lists of retrieved articles and selected websites. Data were extracted independently. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool was used to assess methodological quality. A Weight of Evidence Framework enabled evaluation of the overall quality of evidence. Data were synthesised using thematic qualitative analysis. RESULTS: Thirty-five studies were included. All studies were retrospective, evaluated programmes in nursing (n = 19), physiotherapy (n = 6), general and family medicine (n = 4), public health (n = 3), dentistry (n = 1), interdisciplinary (n = 1), and occupational therapy (n = 1). Most studies were rated low in methodological quality, with an overall low to moderate weight of evidence for programmes' outcomes and impact. Pedagogies that promote social participation and knowledge co-construction, reflection, learner-centred approach, relevance and authenticity influenced outcomes and impact. CONCLUSION(S): Notwithstanding the low to moderate weight of evidence, the review identified multiple positive outcomes of Master-level education for healthcare practitioners. Whilst the pedagogies that contributed to such positive outcomes were examined in some studies, there is a need to further explore links between programme pedagogy, outputs, outcomes and impact. A cultural approach to evaluation may capture how M-level education drives changes.




Madi, M., Hamzeh, H., Griffiths, M., Rushton, A., & Heneghan, N. R. (2019). Exploring taught masters education for healthcare practitioners: a systematic review of literature. BMC Medical Education, 19(1), 340.

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