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ENHANCING EDUCATION AND PRACTICE
Year : 2003  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 328-338

General Practitioners' Perceptions of Continuing Medical Education's Role in Changing Behaviour


1 Goodfellow Unit, Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, NewZealand
2 Goodfellow Unit, Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand; General Practitioner, Southampton, UK

Correspondence Address:
Felicity Goodyear-Smith
Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland. Private Bag 92019, Auckland
NewZealand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


Context: The effectiveness of moving to compulsory, prescriptive continuing medical education (CME) for New Zealand general practitioners (GPs) is questioned. Motivational interviewing theory suggests that a series of interventions gradually increase awareness of the need to change until change is finally actioned. This study aimed to explore GPs' views on their need for CME, experiences regarding its provision and perceptions on the effect of CME in changing their clinical behaviour. Method: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews of 24 GPs from Auckland and North Island rural areas assessing their CME experiences and preferences. Findings: All participants acknowledged that CME is a life-long process essential for GPs. Changing behaviour is generally seen as an incremental, evolutionary process with reinforcement of knowledge from different sources. Single events were perceived to effect change rarely. These were often high-impact, either punitive or incentive-based. GPs have a myriad of CME sources including reading, the internet, specialist letters, conversations with colleagues, quality assurance feedback, as well as traditional meetings. Credit-based quota requirements received mixed opinions but mostly were perceived negatively, discouraging needs-based approaches to learning. GPs' greatest barrier to obtaining CME is time. Discussion: GPs perform poorly in assessing their specific learning needs. Their behaviour change is likely to be incremental. Therefore multi-faceted interventions and reinforcement from different sources are likely to be most effective in changing clinical practice. Understanding this is important for CME providers, GP Colleges and funders. Narrow, credit-based approaches to CME may discourage time-strapped GPs obtaining motivation to change from exposure to a wide variety of CME sources.


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