Determining the Impact of Physician Participation in Online Continuing Medical Education Activities on the Health of Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Linda Casbeer, Rachael Shillman, Stephen Burton, Destry J. Sulkes, Martin Irvine, Cyndi Grimes

Abstract


Background: Most US patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are treated by primary care physicians. Physician adherence to COPD clinical-practice guidelines has been inconsistent, prompting the development of continuing medical education (CME) activities focused on COPD. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of a series of online COPD CME activities on patient health.

Methods: A study of 807 patients with COPD treated by 99 primary care physicians was conducted to determine patient perceptions of disease control and how well informed the patients were about COPD and its treatment. The responses of patients treated by 48 physicians who had participated in at least one of 3 online CME COPD activities were compared with a control group of patients treated by 51 physicians who had not participated in the online activities.

Results: Physician participation in online CME COPD activities was associated with a significantly higher proportion of patients who felt their COPD had been controlled over the previous 12 months, compared with a similar group of patients of nonparticipating physicians (64.0% versus 57.8%; P = .07). The proportion of patients who felt informed about their COPD was also higher (79.4% versus 73.7%; P = .06). Physician participation in online CME COPD activities, however, was not associated with a higher proportion of patients who reported following their doctor’s advice (79.6% versus 79.0%; P = .91).

Conclusion: Physician participation in online CME COPD activities was associated with significantly higher numbers of patients who felt their COPD had been controlled over the previous 12 months and patients who felt informed about COPD. These results indicate a positive impact of online CME on the health of patients living with a chronic disease.


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