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Computer Aided Learning (CAL) is the use of software packages that not only provide its users with information to learn but tests the users’ knowledge and give feedback on those tests.1

CAL is useful as it provides the users with an opportunity to learn in a much more relaxed environment. Users can learn at their pace with little or no interaction from the staff. The use of multimedia techniques such as videos, sound and graphic images enhance the learning process.


There are several packages available; many have been developed by healthcare organizations for use by their staff, patients or students. Others have been developed for use by the general public, these are usually available commercially.

Patient centric Computer Aided Learning has proven to be an effective tool for improving healthcare knowledge and clinical outcomes.2 CAL systems are being developed in the hope that they would improve patient care in patients with long term disease states by teaching practical skills and consolidating on theoretical understanding.3

Another area in which Computer Aided Learning has been successfully applied is in the teaching of medical students, where it has acted as a stimulus for further learning.4 When properly structured CAL can be as effective as other methods of teaching and can be used as an adjunct to the traditional methods of teaching or as a self-instructional tool.5

ADAMS Software Fig. 1 Screenshot of the ADAM anatomy teaching software.


  1. Degoulet, Practice; Fieschi, Marius. Introduction to clinical Informatics, Chp 13. Springer 1999

  2. Lewis, D. Computers in patient education. Comput Inform Nurs. 2003 Mar-Apr;21(2):88-96

  3. Berridge, E. et al. Computer-aided learning for the education of patients and family practice professionals in the personal care of diabetes. Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 2000 Jul;62(3):191-204

  4. Devitt, P.; Smith, J., R.; Palmer, E. Improved student learning in ophthalmology with computer-aided instruction. Eye. 2001 Oct;15(Pt 5):635-9

  5. Rosenberg, H. The effectiveness of computer-aided, self-instructional prgrams in dental education: a systemmatic review of the literature. J Dent Educ. 2003 May;67(5):524-32


Useful Links



International Medical Informatics Association
American Medical Informatics Association
UK Health Informatics Society
British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee
European Federation for Medical Informatics
American Nursing Informatics Association
American Telemedicine Association

Knowledge Center
Biomedical Informatics
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Pharmaceutical Informatics
Public Health Informatics
Veterinary Informatics
Healthcare Technologies
Health Informatics Topics
Computer Aided Learning
Decision Making
Healthcare IT Strategy Making
Medical Data
Medical Classification Systems

Last Updated: 9 August 2006.

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