August, 2008 - SUPPORT Summary of a systematic review | print this article |

Do continuing education meetings and workshops improve professional practice and healthcare outcomes?

An important aim of continuing education is to improve professional practice so that patients can receive improved health care. Educational meetings and printed educational materials are the most common types of continuing education for health pro-fessionals. Educational meetings include lectures, workshops and courses. The meet-ings can be highly variable in terms of content, number of participants, the degree and type of interaction, length and frequency. Other activities used for quality improvement and professional development, like audit and feedback, educational outreach and continuous quality improvement, may include educational meetings.


Key messages

  • Educational meetings alone or combined with other interventions can improve professional practice and healthcare outcomes for the patients.
  • The median effect is small to modest and comparable to the effect of other continuing medical education activities such as audit and feedback and educational outreach visits.
  • The effect of educational meetings alone on professional practice was the same as for multifaceted interventions that included educational meetings. Examples of co-interventions could be reminders, patient education material, supportive services, feedback reports and educational outreach visits.
  • There are large variations in the effects found in different studies.
  • Few studies have compared different types of educational meetings. No firm conclusions can be drawn about what is the most effective form.
  • The effect appears to be larger with higher attendance at the educational meetings and with mixed interactive and didactic educational meetings.
  • Educational meetings did not appear to be effective for complex behaviours and they appeared to be less effective for less serious outcomes.


About the systematic review underlying this summary

Summary of findings

Relevance of the review for low-income countries

Additional information