Aims: To determine the content of a distance learning course in therapeutics for general practitioners (GPs).
Methods: This paper reports the results of a three-round Delphi study. The respondent group comprised 21 GPs who were expert in their field. In the first round, the experts were interviewed to determine the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes required by GPs to prescribe effectively; the justification for, and scope of a distance learning course; and the preferred learning methods, format and methods of assessment. The first round generated 251 statements, which were collapsed into 108 statements covering thirteen domains. In the second and third rounds, a questionnaire was posted to the GPs. 95% responded to the second round questionnaire and agreed upon 86 statements, which were then collated into four domains. In the third round, 19 GPs rated each of the 86 statements on a five point scale. Consensus was reached for 99% of statements: 40 on the aims, design, format, organization and assessment of the course; and 45 on the knowledge and skills to be acquired by GPs who complete the course.
Results: The results revealed a consensus in favour of: modules at regular intervals some flexibility in meeting deadlines interaction among students for mutual support easy access to course tutors some face-to-face contact to complement distance learning material clear guidance on effective and safe prescribing emphasis on importance of 'people skills'
Conclusions: The Delphi process can be used to determine the competencies required for continuing medical education in therapeutics.