A meta-analysis of continuing medical education effectiveness
Article first published online: 26 MAR 2007
Copyright © 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 27, Issue 1, pages 6–15, Winter 2007
How to Cite
Mansouri, M. and Lockyer, J. (2007), A meta-analysis of continuing medical education effectiveness. J. Contin. Educ. Health Prof., 27: 6–15. doi: 10.1002/chp.88
- Issue published online: 26 MAR 2007
- Article first published online: 26 MAR 2007
- Continuing Medical Education (CME);
- physician knowledge;
- physician performance;
- patient health;
Introduction: We undertook a meta-analysis of the Continuing Medical Education (CME) outcome literature to examine the effect of moderator variables on physician knowledge, performance, and patient outcomes.
Methods: A literature search of MEDLINE and ERIC was conducted for randomized controlled trials and experimental design studies of CME outcomes in which physicians were a major group. CME moderator variables included the types of intervention, the types and number of participants, time, and the number of intervention sessions held over time.
Results: Thirty-one studies met the eligibility criteria, generating 61 interventions. The overall sample-size weighted effect size for all 61 interventions was r = 0.28 (0.18). The analysis of CME moderator variables showed that active and mixed methods had medium effect sizes (r = 0.33 [0.33], r = 0.33 [0.26], respectively), and passive methods had a small effect size (r = 0.20 [0.16], confidence interval 0.15, 0.26). There was a positive correlation between the effect size and the length of the interventions (r = 0.33) and between multiple interventions over time (r = 0.36). There was a negative correlation between the effect size and programs that involved multiple disciplines (r = −0.18) and the number of participants (r = −0.13). The correlation between the effect size and the length of time for outcome assessment was negative (r = −0.31).
Discussion: The meta-analysis suggests that the effect size of CME on physician knowledge is a medium one; however, the effect size is small for physician performance and patient outcome. The examination of moderator variables shows there is a larger effect size when the interventions are interactive, use multiple methods, and are designed for a small group of physicians from a single discipline.