Review and evaluation of online tobacco dependence treatment training programs for health care practitioners

Peter Selby, Karina Goncharenko, Megan Barker, Myra Fahim, Valerie Timothy, Rosa Dragonetti, Katherine Kemper, Marilyn Herie, J. Taylor Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Training health care professionals is associated with increased capacity to deliver evidence-based smoking cessation interventions and increased quit rates among their patients. Online training programs hold promise to provide training but questions remain regarding the quality and usability of available programs. Objective: The aim was to assess the quality of English-language online courses in tobacco dependence treatment using a validated instrument. Methods: An environmental scan was conducted using the Google search engine to identify available online tobacco dependence treatment courses. The identified courses were then evaluated using the Peer Review Rubric for Online Learning, which was selected based on its ability to evaluate instructional design. It also has clear and concise criteria descriptions to ensure uniformity of evaluations by trained experts. Results: A total of 39 courses were identified, of which 24 unique courses were assessed based on their accessibility and functionality during the period of evaluation. Overall, the course ratings indicated that 17 of 24 courses evaluated failed to meet minimal quality standards and none of the courses evaluated could be ranked as superior. However, many excelled in providing effective navigation, course rationale, and content. Many were weak in the use of instructional design elements, such as teaching effectiveness, learning strategies, instructor's role, and assessment and evaluation. Evaluation results and suggestions for improvement were shared with course administrators. Conclusions: Based on the courses evaluated in this review, course developers are encouraged to employ best practices in instructional design, such as cohesiveness of material, linearity of design, practice exercises, problem solving, and ongoing evaluation to improve existing courses and in the design of new online learning opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e97
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Continuing medical education
  • Distance education
  • Health care
  • Program evaluation
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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