Adoption and Use of Mobile Learning in Continuing Professional Development by Health and Human Services Professionals

J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2019 Spring;39(2):76-85. doi: 10.1097/CEH.0000000000000243.


Introduction: Health and human services professionals are increasingly using mobile devices to support clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice. However, research on self-directed learning in an era of growing digital technology utilization is underdeveloped. This study explored the adoption and use of mobile learning as a continuing professional development (CPD) activity.

Methods: A mixed-methods case study using semistructured interviews and a web-based questionnaire was conducted with health and human services professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Results: Respondents reported using a smartphone (53.8%), tablets (50.4%), YouTube (43.0%), and mobile apps (35.8%) for CPD. The highest-rated benefits of mobile learning included improved access to information (M = 3.51); potential for enhanced knowledge acquisition (M = 3.45); staying up to date (M = 3.44); and verifying information (M = 3.40). The greatest barriers included cost of some apps and resources (M = 3.07); websites/programs not functional on mobile devices (M = 2.84); workplace barriers preventing access to digital resources (M = 2.82); and social media use linked to negative perceptions of professionalism (M = 2.65). Interview respondents described the flexibility and convenience of mobile learning, the level of autonomy it offered, and the advantages of learning on their own time. Technical issues, particularly for rural and remote practitioners, and digital professionalism also emerged as potential barriers.

Discussion: A systems model organizes the factors influencing the adoption and use of mobile devices and resources to support "just-in-time" learning. Addressing policies, practices, and regulations that enable or inhibit adoption of mobile learning for CPD may foster enhanced use to support better clinical decision-making, improved accuracy, and greater patient safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Continuing / standards
  • Education, Continuing / trends*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications / standards*
  • Mobile Applications / trends
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Staff Development / methods*
  • Staff Development / standards
  • Staff Development / trends
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching / standards*
  • Teaching / trends