Effect of a short skills training course on competence and performance in general practice

Med Educ. 2000 Jan;34(1):66-71. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2000.00401.x.


Objectives: Evaluation of the efficacy of a short course of technical clinical skills to change performance in general practice.

Design: Subjects were self-selected general practitioners (n=59) who were unaware of the study design. They were assigned to the intervention group (n=31) or control group (n=28) according to their preference for course date. The course covered four different technical clinical skills (shoulder injection technique, PAP-smear, laboratory examination of vaginal discharge, ophthalmoscopic control in diabetes mellitus). Main outcome measures used were pre- and post-training scores on a knowledge test of skills (60 multiple choice items), and pre- and post-training performance of procedures in practice using a log-diary covering 20 days.

Setting: University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Subjects: Self-selected general practitioners.

Results: Competence, as measured by the knowledge test of skills, improved significantly as a result of the training and skills test scores were satisfactory after training. A significant effect on performance in practice was found for PAP-smear and shoulder injection technique, whereas no effect could be demonstrated for examination of vaginal discharge and ophthalmoscopic control in diabetes mellitus.

Conclusions: A good degree of competence is a necessary but not always sufficient condition for a physician to change his performance in practice. While some skills training seems adequate to bring about desired changes, for other skills more complex interventions are probably needed.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Professional Competence