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German ambulatory care physicians' perspectives on continuing medical education - a national survey

: Kempkens, D.; Dieterle, W.E.; Butzlaff, M.; Wilson, A.; Böcken, J.; Rieger, M.A.; Wilm, S.; Vollmar, H.C.


The Journal of continuing education in the health professions 29 (2009), Nr.4, S.259-268
ISSN: 0894-1912
ISSN: 1554-558X
Fraunhofer ISI ()
physician; ambulatory care; family practice; education; medical; continuing; attitude; Germany; primary care; general practice

Introduction: This survey aimed to investigate German ambulatory physicians' opinions about mandatory continuing medical education (CME) and CME resources shortly before the introduction of mandatory CME in 2004.
Methods: A structured national telephone survey of general practitioners and specialists was conducted. Main outcome measures were opinions about mandatory CME, preferred CME media, and financial aspects of CME. Data analysis applied Pearson's correlation coefficient for explorative analysis of correlations, analysis of variance for group comparison, and 2-test for investigation of distribution of 2 or more categorical variables.
Results: Of the 511 participants, 73% felt that CME supported them in keeping up to date with new medical knowledge, yet only half believed in its ability to minimize medical errors or increase quality of patient care. Traditional ways of learning were preferred. Significant differences in CME behavior were found between primary-care physicians and specialists, the latter using more communicative media. Also, a small group of very skeptical physicians who do not agree with the need for CME in general was identified. Average expenditure for CME was estimated between 500 and 1000 Euros per year. A majority of physicians called for other parties, eg, health insurances or government, to share the financial responsibility for CME.
Discussion: Mandatory CME was accepted as a necessity already before the new legislation took effect, with prevailing skepticism at the same time. Future research is needed on how to motivate physicians and especially certain subgroups of physicians to use CME methods shown to be effective in changing clinical behavior.