What do general practitioners do in order to keep themselves up to date? A questionnaire survey.
Background. Continuing education should ensure that a doctor provides effective care based on the best available evidence. But not all continuing education is equally effective.
Material and methods. A questionnaire on continuing education was sent to 1500 general practitioners (GPs) in Norway. The response rate was 58 %.
Results. GPs spent on average 2.3 hours per week on continuing education. Discharge reports were used daily for continuing education by 75 % of GPs and represented 10 % of the total time spent on continuing education in a 30-day period. Courses were not used so often but took up a lot of time when attended. Traditional lectures accounted for 80 % of course instruction. Learning something new and improving practice were the two most important objectives for participating in continuing education. Around every second GP participated in a small group of colleagues.
Interpretation. GPs spend a lot of time on continuing education activities that research has shown to have little or no effect on practice. It is essential that the activities used are evaluated to a much greater extent than what they are now.