Background: The Institute of Medicine states that the new vision for continuing education (CE) for health-care professionals will be based on continuing professional development (CPD); however, information on the utility of CPD is lacking.
Objective: To assess the effect of CPD, compared with that of traditional continuing pharmacy education (CPE), on perceptions of factors related to pharmacy practice.
Methods: This 10-month, nonblinded, randomized controlled study recruited licensed pharmacists employed at a health maintenance organization (HMO). After completing a basic CPD course, participants were randomized to the intervention or control group. The control group was instructed to continue with traditional CPE. The intervention group participants completed 3 CPD workshops and were instructed to utilize the CPD approach for their learning needs. At baseline and follow-up, all participants completed a study questionnaire on perceptions of their pharmacy practices. The outcome measures were comparisons on follow-up and changes from baseline to follow-up in responses to the study questionnaire.
Results: One hundred pharmacists were enrolled. The intervention (n = 44, 7 lost to follow-up) and control (n = 47, 2 lost to follow-up) groups were similar at baseline. At follow-up, a higher percentage of intervention participants reported that they had better interactions with other health-care providers (always/frequently 32% vs 6%, respectively) and initiated practice/work changes (always/frequently 21% vs 0%, respectively) (both p < 0.01) as a result of their education activities. Compared with control participants at follow-up, intervention participants reported that their education activities improved patient care changes (46% vs 23%), professional knowledge (34% vs 6%), skills (48% vs 17%), and attitudes/values (43% to 11%) (all p < 0.05). However, intervention participants reported more often that time was a barrier to completing education activities (75% vs 32%, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Pharmacists who participated in CPD reported more often that their perceptions of various aspects of their pharmacy practice improved as a result of their education activities compared with pharmacists who participated in traditional CPE.