Characteristics of multi-institutional health sciences education research: a systematic review


  • Jocelyn Huang Schiller Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Gary L. Beck Dallaghan (corresponding author), Assistant Dean for Medical Education, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, NE
  • Terry Kind Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s National and George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  • Heather McLauchlan Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, IL
  • Joseph Gigante Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
  • Sherilyn Smith Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA



Systematic Review, Multi-Institutional Research, Funding


Objectives: Multi-institutional research increases the generalizability of research findings. However, little is known about characteristics of collaborations across institutions in health sciences education research. Using a systematic review process, the authors describe characteristics of published, peer-reviewed multi-institutional health sciences education research to inform educators who are considering such projects.

Methods: Two medical librarians searched MEDLINE, the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), EMBASE, and CINAHL databases for English-language studies published between 2004 and 2013 using keyword terms related to multi-institutional systems and health sciences education. Teams of two authors reviewed each study and resolved coding discrepancies through consensus. Collected data points included funding, research network involvement, author characteristics, learner characteristics, and research methods. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: One hundred eighteen of 310 articles met inclusion criteria. Sixty-three (53%) studies received external and/or internal financial support (87% listed external funding, 37% listed internal funding). Forty-five funded studies involved graduate medical education programs. Twenty (17%) studies involved a research or education network. Eighty-five (89%) publications listed an author with a master’s degree or doctoral degree. Ninety-two (78%) studies were descriptive, whereas 26 studies (22%) were experimental. The reported study outcomes were changes in student attitude (38%; n=44), knowledge (26%; n=31), or skill assessment (23%; n=27), as well as patient outcomes (9%; n=11).

Conclusions: Multi-institutional descriptive studies reporting knowledge or attitude outcomes are highly published. Our findings indicate that funding resources are not essential to successfully undertake multi-institutional projects. Funded studies were more likely to originate from graduate medical or nursing programs.

Author Biography

Gary L. Beck Dallaghan, (corresponding author), Assistant Dean for Medical Education, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, NE

Assistant Dean for Medical Education

Office of Medical Education