Continuing medical education in China: evidence from primary health workers' preferences for continuing traditional Chinese medicine education

BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Nov 3;23(1):1200. doi: 10.1186/s12913-023-10153-y.


Background: Continuing Medical Education (CME) is an important part of the training process for health workers worldwide. In China, training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) not only improves the expertise of medical workers, but also supports the Chinese Government's policy of promoting TCM as an equal treatment to western medicine. CME, including learning Traditional Chinese Medicine Technologies (TCMTs), perform poorly and research into the motivation of health workers to engage in CME is urgently required. Using a discrete choice experiment, this study assessed the CME learning preferences of primary health workers, using TCMT as a case study of CME programs.

Methods: We conducted a discrete choice experiment among health workers in Shandong Province, Guizhou Province, and Henan provinces from July 1, 2021 to October 1, 2022 on the TCMT learning preferences of primary health workers. The mixed logit model and latent class analysis model were used to analyze primary health workers' TCMT learning preferences.

Results: A total of 1,063 respondents participated in this study, of which 1,001 (94.2%) passed the consistency test and formed the final sample. Our key finding was that there were three distinct classes of TCMT learners. Overall, the relative importance of the seven attributes impacting the learning of TCMTs were: learning expenses, expected TCMT efficacy, TCMT learning difficulty, TCMT mode of learning, TCMT type, time required to learn, and expected frequency of TCMT use. However, these attributes differed significantly across the three distinct classes of TCMT learners. Infrequent users (class 1) were concerned with learning expenses and learning difficulty; workaholics (class 2) focused on the mode of learning; and pragmatists (class 3) paid more attention to the expected TCMT efficacy and the expected frequency of TCMT use. We recommend targeted strategies to motivate TCMT learning suited to the requirements of each class of TCMT learners.

Conclusion: Rather than a single TCMT medical education program for primary health workers, CME programs should be targeted at different classes of TCMT learners.

Keywords: Continuing medical education; Discrete choice experiment; Health workers; Learning preferences; Traditional Chinese Medicine technologies.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*