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Tackling the challenge of the impact of continuing education: an evidence synthesis charting a global, cross‐professional shift away from counting hours

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Alison Bullock, Argyro Kavadella, John Cowpe, Barnes Emma, Barry Quinn, Denis Murphy

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2020

King's Authors


Health professionals worldwide are required to maintain their knowledge and skills through continuing education. However, there is limited evidence that the accumulation of hours of educational activity enhances practice. The aim of this study was to review evidence of the impact of continuing professional development (CPD), best educational practice, and new models of CPD requirements.

We conducted a rapid evidence synthesis, reviewing literature and websites on continuing education for healthcare and non‐healthcare professionals.

We extracted data from 184 publications. Studies of CPD that evidence‐changed practice and improved patient care are uncommon. What evidence there is suggests that activities are more likely to have impact if a combination of methods is used and if they are aligned with learning needs. Impact is also affected by the learner and their work environment.

In terms of CPD requirements, we identified three models: input‐based; outcomes‐based and mixed models. We found a clear shift from quantitative, time‐serving, input‐models to outcomes‐focused models which emphasise the identification of learning needs, selection of educational activity relevant to practice, and reflection on practice improvement. Across a range of professions, recently updated CPD regulations no longer require registrants to accumulate CPD hours/points/credits.

Outcomes‐based models support registrants’ engagement in relevant, meaningful CPD which holds greater potential to positively impact on practice and strengthen patient safety.

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