The science of continuing medical education: terms, tools, and gaps: effectiveness of continuing medical education: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Educational Guidelines

Chest. 2009 Mar;135(3 Suppl):8S-16S. doi: 10.1378/chest.08-2513.


Background: By its synthesis of a selected portion of the continuing medical education (CME) literature, the evidence-based practice center (EPC) review discovered several major issues in primary study design and in the systematic review process of CME studies. Through this process, the review speaks to the need for clarity in designing, reporting and synthesizing CME trials and provides an opportunity to advance the research agenda in this field.

Methods: The evidence-based guideline (EBG) committee reviewed the methods section of the EPC report and these guidelines in detail, commenting on the search and review process and on the nature of the primary literature and the definitions used within it, comparing these to other published standardized measures.

Results: Although the EBG committee noted much strength in the EPC review, limitations of the primary literature and the review methodology were identified and defined. These strengths and limitations hold implications for further research in this area.

Conclusions: Noting these limitations and in order to move the field forward, the EBG committee proposes a standard nomenclature of terms in common use in CME; a more rigorous process of searching, distilling, and synthesizing the primary literature in this area; and a common format on which to base the development and description of future trials of CME interventions.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards*
  • Humans
  • Research / standards
  • Thoracic Diseases / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States