Engagement in Online Postgraduate Nursing Programs: An Integrative Review

Anita Dunn, Helena Harrison, Holly L. Northam, Melanie Birks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Demand for online education has increased in recent decades. Uptake of postgraduate nursing education in this mode is on the rise, yet many students do not achieve completion. Student engagement is vital to success in online postgraduate nursing programs. Technology enables a more efficient means of monitoring engagement, yet limited literature is available on how the design of online postgraduate nursing programs impacts student engagement. This integrative review aims to identify barriers and facilitators to engaging in online postgraduate nursing programs. Four databases, including Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Education Resources Information Center, Scopus, and Medline, were systematically searched to identify relevant literature published over the period 1990 to 2022. Fifteen papers met the inclusion criteria. Thematic analysis generated three themes: design and delivery, support and connectivity, and student factors and success. The findings of this review uncover the range of indiscriminate variables and experiences that students have with online learning, making engaging instructional design a complex process. Nursing faculty require time and resources to develop skills specific to delivering “distance” education without being distant to the students. This review concludes that online postgraduate nursing programs are not a panacea, with ethical issues identified for higher education providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSage Open
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Apr 2024


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