Disclosure: The authors report none.
Questions asked by physicians as the basis for continuing education needs assessment†
Article first published online: 21 MAR 2011
Copyright © 2011 The Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on CME, Association for Hospital Medical Education
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Volume 31, Issue 1, pages 3–14, Winter 2011
How to Cite
Ebell, M. H., Cervero, R. and Joaquin, E. (2011), Questions asked by physicians as the basis for continuing education needs assessment. J. Contin. Educ. Health Prof., 31: 3–14. doi: 10.1002/chp.20095
- Issue published online: 21 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 21 MAR 2011
- clinical questions;
- point-of-care learning;
- evidence-based medicine;
- adult education
Our goal was to identify the clinical questions that health care professionals have at the point of care and explore whether these questions could be used to drive a needs assessment for continuing education programs.
We gathered questions from 28 clinicians; 11 were directly observed for approximately 5 days per person, while others were given the option of submitting questions via e-mail, pocket card, or text message. They were asked to report all questions—everything from clear-cut questions to vague and fleeting uncertainties—and to evaluate their importance (low, moderate, or high priority). Questions were classified based on the Ely taxonomy of question type and by specialty domain.
We collected 563 questions; most (n = 429) came from the direct observation participants. Most questions were high (n = 171) or moderate (n = 236) priority. Of 60 categories of question type, 65.8% of all questions (and 70% asked by primary care clinicians) fell into only 9 categories. The most common question types were “How should I treat finding/condition y given situation z?”, “Is drug x indicated in situation y or for condition y?”, and “What is the cause of symptom x?”.
More than two-thirds of physician questions fell into one of five competencies: cause of a clinical finding, test selection, prevention, treatment selection, and prognosis. By using these questions as a form of needs assessment, educators can develop programs that directly address the information needs and questions of learners in ways that are more likely to change performance and to ultimately benefit patients.