General practitioners' continuing education: A review of policies, strategies and effectiveness, and their implications for the future

Frank Smith, Andrew Singleton, Sean Hilton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. The accreditation and provision of continuing education for general practitioners (GPs) is set to change with new proposals from the General Medical Council, the Government, and the Chief Medical Officer. Aim. To review the theories, policies, strategies, and effectiveness in GP continuing education in the past 10 years. Method. A systematic review of the literature by computerized and manual searches of relevant journals and books. Results. Educational theory suggests that continuing education (CE) should be work-based and use the learner's experiences. Audit can play an important role in determining performance and needs assessment, but at present is largely a separate activity. Educational and professional support, such as through mentors or co-tutors, has been successfully piloted but awaits larger scale evaluation. Most accredited educational events are still the postgraduate centre lecture, and GP Tutors have a variable role in CE management and provision. Controlled trials of CE strategies suggest effectiveness is enhanced by personal feedback and work prompts. Qualitative studies have demonstrated that education plays only a small part in influencing doctors' behaviour. Conclusion. Maintaining good clinical practice is on many stakeholders' agendas. A variety of methods may be effective in CE, and larger scale trials or evaluations are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1689-1695
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Volume48
Issue number435
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Continuing medical education
  • General practitioners
  • Postgraduate educational allowance

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