The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is pleased to announce the publication of two reports addressing important issues in CME.
The first report reviews the literature about the effectiveness of continuing medical education. The second report addresses the question about whether there is a relationship between commercial support and bias in CME activities.
The reports were commissioned and funded by the ACCME. They are co-authored by Ronald M Cervero, PhD, Professor and Associate Vice President for Instruction, The University of Georgia; and Julie K. Gaines, MLIS, Head, Medical Partnership Campus Library, Georgia Regents University-The University of Georgia Medical Partnership.
The ACCME has produced supplementary materials to foster discussion about the reports. In an audio commentary, Murray Kopelow, MD, President and CEO, ACCME, explains that the reports are a call to action for the CME community. In two video interviews, Dr. Cervero and Dr. Kopelow discuss the reports’ key points. They explore how CME providers can use the reports to develop strategies for countering misperceptions about CME and for advancing research about the effectiveness and independence of CME.
CME Has Positive Impact on Physician Performance and Patient Health Outcomes
Effectiveness of Continuing Medical Education: Updated Synthesis of Systematic Reviews demonstrates that CME is a strategic asset to change. The research shows that CME has a positive impact on physician performance and patient health outcomes.
“CME has an integral role in the wider system that supports physician continuing professional development and healthcare improvement. I encourage CME providers to show this research to healthcare leaders and CEOs and tell them: You need to take advantage of accredited CME – or you are missing an important opportunity to drive healthcare improvement,” said Dr. Kopelow.
The report shows that CME is most effective if it is based on practice-based needs assessment, and is ongoing, interactive, and focused on outcomes that are considered important by physicians. The report concludes that more sophisticated research is needed to analyze how and why CME improves physician performance and patient health outcomes. In addition, future research should take account of the wider social, political, and organizational factors that affect physician performance and patient health outcomes.
“We should stop asking questions about whether CME is effective. The debate is over. Instead of asking, ‘Is CME effective?’ we need to ask, ‘What types of CME are most effective? How can we make CME even more effective?’” said Dr. Kopelow.
No Evidence Supports or Refutes the Belief that Commercial Support Creates Bias in CME Activities
Is There a Relationship between Commercial Support and Bias in Continuing Medical Education Activities? An Updated Literature Review finds that there is no evidence to support or to refute the belief that commercial support creates commercial bias in CME activities.
The literature review shows that commercially supported CME can be based on evidence and clinically accurate content. The research shows that physicians perceive very low levels of commercial bias in CME activities — 3 to 5 percent — and they report the same level of bias for activities that were and were not commercially supported.
The literature review recommends the development of rigorous scientific studies to address questions about the relationship between commercial support and bias in accredited CME.
“The CME community takes the issues of independence and conflict of interest very seriously. The literature review supports the success of the Standards for Commercial Support: Standards for Ensuring Independence in CME Activities℠ in providing a framework for ensuring that CME activities are independent. Journal articles and national reports make statements that commercial support leads to bias in CME – without any evidence to support those statements. Perception and beliefs are not evidence. We need evidence-based research and evidence-based solutions to address concerns about independence in accredited CME,” said Dr. Kopelow.
Call to Action
The ACCME published these reports as a call to action to the CME community. “Discuss them with your stakeholders. Ask, 'How can we advance research into the effectiveness and independence of CME? What strategies can we implement to challenge misperceptions about CME? How can we communicate the proven value of CME to health system stakeholders?'” said Dr. Kopelow.
Research Reports and Supplementary Materials
The research reports and supplementary materials can be found at the links below.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago that is responsible for accrediting institutions that offer continuing medical education through a voluntary, self-regulatory system. The ACCME also has a system for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors for local organizations offering CME.
The ACCME's mission is to identify, develop, and promote standards for quality continuing medical education that improves healthcare for patients and their communities. There are approximately 2,000 accredited CME providers within the ACCME accreditation system, whose activities educate more than 24 million healthcare practitioner participants annually.
The ACCME's member organizations, which represent the profession of medicine and include physician licensing and credentialing bodies, are the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association for Hospital Medical Education, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the US, Inc.
For more information, visit www.accme.org.