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Fam Med. 2011 May;43(5):334-7.

Adult learning models for large-group continuing medical education activities.

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Department of Family Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.



Despite evidence suggesting that other learning modalities are more effective, large-group continuing medical education (CME) activities continue to be predominantly lecture based.


Using convenience sampling, a cross-sectional survey was administered to health care professionals attending the 2009 American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Scientific Assembly. Participants were asked to describe their preferred learning format for CME activities. Participants were asked which formats they felt were most effective in helping them retain information or change their medical practice.


Nearly half (46%) of sampled respondents indicated that they prefer lecture-based format for CME activities. Interestingly, interactive (39%) and procedural (27%) formats were more effective than lecture (24%) in helping health care professionals retain information. A similar response pattern was noted for which CME activities were more likely to change individual practice patterns. More physicians correctly answered board-type questions when attending interactive sessions compared with traditional lectures.


Health care professions prefer traditional lecture-based format CME activities but recognize that interactive sessions are more effective, helping them to retain information and change practice behaviors. Interactive sessions are equal or superior to lecture in short-term knowledge acquisition. CME planners should take these findings into consideration when organizing large-group CME activities.

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