Commonly used methods for identifying the training needs of general practitioners do not enable the real needs felt during interviews with patients during office visits to be detected. In this study, the authors evaluate how physicians' use of a personal-office-visit diary affects the level of specificity of their expressed training needs. In 1999, the authors carried out a controlled intervention trial using a random sample of 1,038 general practitioners from a region of France, randomized to intervention and control groups. The practitioners in the intervention group were asked to identify their training needs using a personal-office-visit diary. The level of specificity for their expressed needs was compared with that of the expressed needs of the practitioners in the control group.
The use of the diary was associated with a significantly higher level of specificity in the training needs identified by the general practitioners who participated. Independent of the intervention, practitioners under 40 years of age, those in urban practice, and those who were members of a continuing medical education (CME) association expressed their training needs with higher specificity. The personal-office-visit diary would seem to be a simple, inexpensive, and useful tool for more specifically identifying training needs, which could help establish more appropriate and better-targeted training programs. However, it should be assessed further by those involved in CME for general practitioners.
Dr. Pérol is staff physician, Department of Public Health, Léon Bérard Center; Dr. Boissel is professor of clinical pharmacology, Claude Bernard University (CBU); Dr. Broussolle is professor of internal medicine, CBU; Dr. Cêtre is associate professor of public health, CBU; Dr. Stagnara is pediatrician, Paediatric Emergency Department, Debrousse Hospital; and Dr. Chauvin is department head, Department of Public Health, Léon Bérard Center, and associate professor of public health, CBU; all are in Lyon, France.
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Pérol, Department of Public Health, Centre Léon Bérard, 28 rue Laënnec, 69373, Lyon, Cedex 08, France; telephone: 33 (0)4-78-78-28-79; fax: 33 (0)4-78-78-27-15; e-mail: 〈email@example.com〉.
The authors thank the general practitioners who participated in this trial, Sandra David for carrying out the research interviews, and Margaret Haugh for assistance with the preparation of the manuscript. Funding was provided by Rhône-Alpes Council for Continuing Medical Education.