Impact of Highly Interactive Multi-Session Educational Activities on Physician Behavior in Hypertension Management

Carole Drexel, Kathy Merlo, Jan N. Basile, Barry Watkins, Ben Whitfield, Jay M. Katz, Brad Pine


Background: This article describes the processes used to develop and implement a series of live, half-day, highly interac-tive continuing medical education (CME) programs that addressed knowledge, competency, and performance gaps in hypertension diagnosis and management in the primary care community and successfully changed physician behavior toward improved patient outcomes.

Methods: This case-based didactic program was designed to address the Institute of Medicine competencies of provid-ing patient-centered care and employing evidence-based practice. Educational content was developed after conducting a thorough preliminary needs assessment to determine the needs of primary care physicians in the management of hypertension, via literature and discussions with key opinion leaders. Surveys were distributed to physicians (participants) who attended the program onsite during registration and then collected immediately after the educational activity. Fifty surveys were randomly selected for further analysis. Surveys were also distributed to 50 primary care physicians who did not participate in the program (non-participants) via e-mail. Answers to case study questions, current practice patterns, and perceived barriers to care were compared between participants and non-participants to assess differences in practice choices associated with program participation.

Results: Analyses and comparison of the survey results from participants and non-participants showed that participants chose evidence-based answers more frequently than non-participants to questions related to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) guideline recommendations and appropriate antihypertensive therapy use in patients (eg, elderly patients and individuals at risk for stroke). The calcu-lated educational impact was 52%. Based on the average number of hypertensive patients seen weekly by the 588 participants, at least 22,304 hypertensive patients are 52% more likely to receive evidence-based care than those seen by non-participants.

Conclusion: Participation in a half-day, highly interactive CME activity is associated with increased physician knowledge in the management of hypertension, as well as increased likelihood for patients to receive evidence-based care by the physi-cians who participated. Although additional data are needed to fully characterize the impact of CME on patient care, our data contribute to increasing the current understanding of the effect of CME on physician knowledge, competency, and perfor-mance, ultimately leading to improved patient care.

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