The positive and negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the European Council on Chiropractic Education accredited programs: A mixed methods audit and thematic analysis

The objectives of this study were to: (1) determine the impact of COVID-19 on the operations within the 9 sections of the European Council on Chiropractic Education (ECCE) ‘Standards'; (2) identify specific rapid changes to the programs; and (3) identify positive changes that will continue post-pandemic.

This was a mixed methods audit and thematic analysis of data from interviews conducted via a cloud-based video conferencing tool with program leaders of the ECCE accredited institutions. A validated questionnaire designed around ECCE's “Standards” was used, consisting of 3 sections: (1) Severity of the COVID-19 impact on each ECCE Standard section; (2) Description of program changes made for each section; (3) Identification of positive changes continuing post-pandemic. Descriptive statistics were calculated for Part 1 and compared for significant differences via the Kruskal-Wallis test. Verbal responses to Parts 2 and 3 were evaluated independently by 3 researchers using a modified “thematic analysis” approach. Final thematic categories and themes were agreed upon by the researchers.

There was a 100% response rate. Outpatient teaching clinics were most severely affected, followed by teaching chiropractic technique courses. Curricular structure and duration and program management were least affected (p =.033). Four thematic categories were identified: Extreme Stress, Courses Most Severely Affected, Integrity of Examinations and Assessments, and Positive Changes That Will Continue.

Final-year students were most negatively impacted due to restricted opportunities in outpatient clinics. Integrity of examinations was also a problem. Positive, innovative teaching materials and methods were quickly developed and should continue.
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