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Educ Prim Care. 2018 May;29(3):151-165. doi: 10.1080/14739879.2018.1450096. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

Continuing education for general practitioners working in rural practice: a review of the literature.

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a University College Dublin Health Sciences, School of Medicine & Medical Science , Dublin , Ireland.
b ICGPCME Centre , Marina House Medical Centre , Ballinasloe, Co Galway , Ireland.


Background Studies demonstrate that the CME/CPD (continuing medical education/continuing professional development) needs of rural general practitioners (GPs) are unique. Little research has focused specifically on the effectiveness of CME/CPD programmes for rural practice. Aims To review the literature on CME/CPD for GPs in rural areas, focussing on studies which examined impact on doctor performance or patient outcomes. Methods A search of peer-reviewed English language literature and relevant grey literature was conducted: identified literature was reviewed. Results Nineteen articles met the pre-specified inclusion criteria. Educational delivery approaches examined include regional CME/CPD small-group learning programmes, workshops and distance learning. Most articles report on participant experience or satisfaction while doctor performance and patient outcomes are seldom reported. Distance learning programmes found it difficult to recruit or engage doctors, two out of six studies found improvements in self-reported knowledge or performance, while none reported measurable changes in doctor performance/patient care.


Continuing medical education; continuing professional development; general practitioner; rural area; rural health care

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