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A Systematic Review of E-learning in Plastic Surger
Ines C. Lin, MD MSEd Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Background: E-learning has a growing role in medical and surgical education as it can overcome physical, geographic, and time-related barriers to formal instruction. This papers aims to analyze the existing research on e-learning related to plastic surgery.

Methods: A systematic review of "e-learning" or "web-based learning" or "computer-based learning" and plastic surgery using PubMed was performed. Studies were limited to those written in English published after 1995, and excluded papers on simulation or in formats of brief communications or letters to the editor.

Results: 22 papers were identified. 6 survey studies showed high interest in e-learning and a growing utilization and supply of e-learning resources. Several e-learning platforms have been created for education on burns (2), pediatric plastic and cleft surgery (5), and hand/microsurgery (5). Most papers target surgeon learners, although a small number were studied in patients, parents, and referring physicians. E-learning modules also varied in sponsorship from academic institutions, single surgeons, and professional specialty/non-profit organizations. When studied, papers found high levels of user satisfaction with e-learning and significant gains in knowledge after completion.

Conclusion: Existing research on e-learning in plastic surgery varies considerably with surveys, descriptions of creating content, and/or testing knowledge improvement. E-learning is desired in plastic surgery, and some studies on e-learning platforms show that it can successfully increase knowledge in a satisfying environment for learners. Its ideal role in surgeon and trainee education should be further evaluated.

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