BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Continuous professional development (CPD) for Danish general practitioners (GPs) is voluntary and based on funded accredited activities. There is an ongoing discussion on how to improve this current system by introducing mandatory elements. To inform this debate, we set out to identify GPs' current use of CPD and to explore the motives behind their choices.
METHODS: A mixed-methods study with a combined qualitative and quantitative approach was used. In 2012, two focus group interviews were conducted, followed up the same year by an online questionnaire sent to 1079 randomly chosen Danish GPs.
RESULTS: Focus groups: CPD activities are chosen based on personal needs analysis, and in order to be professionally updated, to meet engaged colleagues and to prevent burnout. GPs also attend CPD to assess their own pre-existing level of competence. CPD activities need to be experienced as being both meaningful and relevant in order to have an impact. Questionnaire: The response rate was 686/1079 (63%). GPs spend on average 10.5 days per year on accredited, voluntary CPD activities. Workplace-related CPD activities and practice-based small group learning played a significant role. The main motivation for choice of CPD activities included academic interest, experience of patient-related problems in their own surgeries and medical topics where the GPs felt insufficiently confident.
CONCLUSIONS: Danish GPs are frequent users of voluntary accredited CPD. Their CPD choices are motivated by topics strengthening their professional capacity and preventing burnout. There would seem to be no need for a mandatory system.