Objectives: The association between opportunities for continuing medical education (CME) and primary physicians' job stress, burnout and job dissatisfaction has not been investigated. It was hypothesized that participation in CME activities and perceived opportunities at work for keeping up-to-date with medical and professional developments would be correlated negatively with job stress and burnout, and positively with job satisfaction.
Method: 309 primary care physicians (183 family physicians and 126 paediatricians) employed in health maintenance organizations in Israel responded to a mailed questionnaire. The independent variables were the extent of engagement in CME activities and perceived opportunities at work for professional updating. The dependent variables were job stress, burnout and job satisfaction. Multiple regression analyses were employed.
Results: After controlling for age, sex and professional status, participation in CME activities was associated negatively with job stress and positively with job satisfaction, among family physicians. Among paediatricians, CME was associated negatively with burnout. Perceived opportunities for professional updating were associated negatively with burnout and (marginally) with stress among family physicians, and negatively with stress and positively with satisfaction among paediatricians. A third of the paediatricians and a quarter of the family physicians wanted to increase their involvement in CME.
Discussion: In this cross-sectional study, causality cannot be established and the CME measures should be refined. However, the results are consistent with the study's hypotheses and suggest that opportunities for CME and professional updating may reduce physicians' job distress and dissatisfaction.