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How Doctors Want to Learn - But Do They Learn?
Wentz/Miller & Associates Global CME Newsletter

What do the experts in continuing medical tell us about how doctors learn best? Small groups, interactive learning in multiple media is what we hear. But is that what doctors say? Not many of them. And in any case, how effective are educators in translating research into practice?

  • A new survey of 1,000 GPs in the UK by BMRB showed a clear preference for learning from medical journals compared to sponsored meetings or internet/CD forms of education. Publications drew a vote of 33% very useful and 59% quite useful; meetings 21% very useful and 59% quite useful, and internet/CD lagged at less than 10% very useful, 48% quite useful. Results were similar to a 2003 U.S. study by a major pharmaceutical company. The 3,500 respondents, from specialties as well as family practice, rated "a review article in a peer-reviewed journal" highest in ability to influence prescribing habits, followed by original research articles and CME live programs.

  • In a much different study in the U.S. (Medical Meetings July 2004), doctors overwhelmingly preferred lectures with Q&A (64%) to any other form of learning. Next was case-based learning (36%), then hands-on interactive learning (26%). Lectures without Q&A were dead last. Journals were not studied.

  • It may take 20 years or more - if ever - for original research to change practice behavior, according to a new study on translating research to practice (Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety 30(5), pp. 235-245).

So what do educators do? Give doctors what they want, even if behaviors don't change? Or give them a format that is based on what works rather than what is preferred? And does anything really make a difference?

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