Continuing medical education and attitudes of health care providers toward treating diabetes

Lisa K Sharp, Martin S Lipsky
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 2002, 22 (2): 103-12

INTRODUCTION: Continuing medical education (CME) is an important tool in improving the care provided to patients with type 2 diabetes. Health behavior models suggest that attitudes are important factors in changing behavior. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immediate and 3-month impact of a diabetes educational program on the attitudes of health care providers toward treating diabetes.

METHODS: Health care providers (including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses) were attending a 7-hour CME program on type 2 diabetes in one of eight states in the United States between May and September 1999. Attitudes were assessed using the Diabetes Attitudes Scale-3 (DAS-3), which was given immediately before the program, immediately after the program, and 3 months after the program. A convenience sample of 315 providers completed pre- and post-CME measurement. Three-month follow-ups were completed by 146 (46%) of the 315 providers.

RESULTS: Following the CME program, physicians had significantly more positive attitudes on two of five DAS subscales. At 3 months, the change persisted on one subscale that measured beliefs related to type 2 being a serious disease. Allied professionals had significantly more positive attitudes on five subscales following the program; however, the change did not persist at 3 months.

DISCUSSION: This CME program resulted in different patterns of attitude change for physicians as compared to allied professionals. In both groups, more positive attitudes toward treating diabetes were detected following the CME; however, the change tended to diminish by 3 months after the program. These findings mimic much of the research on knowledge retention following CME.

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