Background: Decision-makers in organizations providing continuing professional development (CPD) have identified the need for routine assessment of its impact on practice. We sought to develop a theory-based instrument for evaluating the impact of CPD activities on health professionals' clinical behavioral intentions.
Methods and findings: Our multipronged study had four phases. 1) We systematically reviewed the literature for instruments that used socio-cognitive theories to assess healthcare professionals' clinically-oriented behavioral intentions and/or behaviors; we extracted items relating to the theoretical constructs of an integrated model of healthcare professionals' behaviors and removed duplicates. 2) A committee of researchers and CPD decision-makers selected a pool of items relevant to CPD. 3) An international group of experts (n = 70) reached consensus on the most relevant items using electronic Delphi surveys. 4) We created a preliminary instrument with the items found most relevant and assessed its factorial validity, internal consistency and reliability (weighted kappa) over a two-week period among 138 physicians attending a CPD activity. Out of 72 potentially relevant instruments, 47 were analyzed. Of the 1218 items extracted from these, 16% were discarded as improperly phrased and 70% discarded as duplicates. Mapping the remaining items onto the constructs of the integrated model of healthcare professionals' behaviors yielded a minimum of 18 and a maximum of 275 items per construct. The partnership committee retained 61 items covering all seven constructs. Two iterations of the Delphi process produced consensus on a provisional 40-item questionnaire. Exploratory factorial analysis following test-retest resulted in a 12-item questionnaire. Cronbach's coefficients for the constructs varied from 0.77 to 0.85.
Conclusion: A 12-item theory-based instrument for assessing the impact of CPD activities on health professionals' clinical behavioral intentions showed adequate validity and reliability. Further studies could assess its responsiveness to behavior change following CPD activities and its capacity to predict health professionals' clinical performance.