1 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada;

3 Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada


Introduction: Lifelong learning is an integral part of healthprofessionals’ maintenance of competence. Several studies haveexamined the orientation toward lifelong learning at variousstages of the education and career continuum; however, none haslooked at changes throughout training and practice. The objectiveof the present study was to determine if there are differencesbetween groups defined by their places on the education andcareer continuum.Methods: The authors performed a group-level meta-analysis onstudies that used the 14-item Jefferson Scale of Physician LifelongLearning or its variants. Eleven published articles, which reportedon studies with post-secondary health professions students,residents, and practicing health professionals met the inclusioncriteria. In total, there were 12 independent data sets, with fourdata sets per group.Results: In total, over seven thousand students, residents, andpracticing health professionals responded to the Jefferson Scale(N=7.269). Individual study means tendency to be high, suggestinga high orientation toward lifelong learning among the trainees(students and residents) and practicing health professionals. Metaanalysisresults indicated that the orientation toward lifelonglearning tended to increase gradually along the education andcareer continuum. Significant differences in the group means werefound between the trainees and practicing health professionals.Conclusions: In the reviewed studies, the orientation towardlifelong learning among students, residents, and practicingprofessionals was high. Nonetheless, although based on separatecohorts, it appears that the orientation toward lifelong learningcontinues to develop even after the completion of formal training.Keywords: Lifelong learning; Health professions; Meta-analysis