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Spaced Learning (Brain Sparks®) on Employee Retention of HIPAA Practices

The Impacts of Scenario-based Online Training and Retrieval-based Learning on Health Care Professionals’ ability to Identify HIPAA Violations in Social Media.


Examine whether online training regarding HIPAA violations in social media significantly improves the learner’s long-term ability to identify HIPAA violations in social media. We will also test the long-term impact of administering follow-up questions on the course material in the weeks after the study.



The rise in social media is transforming communications in healthcare. While social media communications can be a valuable tool, its misuse by healthcare workers can violate patient privacy and confidentiality. Furthermore, HIPAA violations via social media pose great risks to health care organizations who can be fined for employee violations. Much of the HIPAA violations that occur on social media happen because professionals don’t understand that they are violating HIPAA privacy rules. This study will examine whether an online game-based training with retention checks for health care professionals can result in statistically significant increases in health care professionals’ ability to identify situations that are and are not HIPAA violations on social media and whether they understand the possible consequences. 



A pre-post design will be used with a treatment and a control group. Health care professionals will complete a pre-test where they answer scenario-based questions and have to identify HIPAA violations via social media activities. After the pretest, the treatment group will complete the scenario-based training that provides practice opportunities to identify HIPAA violations and gives immediate feedback and scenario-based consequences. After the training, the treatment group will complete a post-test that is similar to the pretest. A treatment subgroup will be sent, via email, retention questions on days 2,4, 6, 30,32, and 34. On day 40, the entire treatment group will complete a brief assessment that measures the participants’ self-efficacy in engaging in behaviors that protect their patients’ privacy on social media sites and their retention of the course material. Three months after the training, all participants will complete a follow-up assessment measuring retention and use of knowledge acquired in the training. The control group will then receive the training and retention questions. Study results will be analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of variance to determine the change in the dependent variables across all three measurement points.