Background: Continuing professional development (CPD) is one of the principal means by which health professionals (i.e. primary care physicians and specialists) maintain, improve, and broaden the knowledge and skills required for optimal patient care and safety. However, the lack of a widely accepted instrument to assess the impact of CPD activities on clinical practice thwarts researchers' comparisons of the effectiveness of CPD activities. Using an integrated model for the study of healthcare professionals' behaviour, our objective is to develop a theory-based, valid, reliable global instrument to assess the impact of accredited CPD activities on clinical practice.
Methods: Phase 1: We will analyze the instruments identified in a systematic review of factors influencing health professionals' behaviours using criteria that reflect the literature on measurement development and CPD decision makers' priorities. The outcome of this phase will be an inventory of instruments based on social cognitive theories. Phase 2: Working from this inventory, the most relevant instruments and their related items for assessing the concepts listed in the integrated model will be selected. Through an e-Delphi process, we will verify whether these instruments are acceptable, what aspects need revision, and whether important items are missing and should be added. The outcome of this phase will be a new global instrument integrating the most relevant tools to fit our integrated model of healthcare professionals' behaviour. Phase 3: Two data collections are planned: (1) a test-retest of the new instrument, including item analysis, to assess its reliability and (2) a study using the instrument before and after CPD activities with a randomly selected control group to explore the instrument's mere-measurement effect. Phase 4: We will conduct individual interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders to identify anticipated barriers and enablers for implementing the new instrument in CPD practice. Phase 5: Drawing on the results from the previous phases, we will use consensus-building methods to develop with the decision makers a plan to implement the new instrument.
Discussion: This project proposes to give stakeholders a theory-based global instrument to validly and reliably measure the impacts of CPD activities on clinical practice, thus laying the groundwork for more targeted and effective knowledge-translation interventions in the future.