Categorising the broad impacts of continuing professional development: a scoping review

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Context: A number of systematic reviews have evaluated the impacts of continuing professional development (CPD). These reviews, due to their focused nature, may fail to capture the full range of impacts of CPD. This scoping review aims to explore the broader impacts of CPD with the intention of developing a categorisation of the types of impact of CPD. Methods: The authors searched MEDLINE, CINAHL and ERIC databases for studies published between 2007 and 2017 that looked at the impacts of formal CPD programmes for all health professionals. Studies were independently screened for eligibility; one reviewer charted data for all included studies, a sample of 10% was reviewed by a second reviewer. The charted data were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative content analysis. Results: The search returned 2750 manuscripts; 192 manuscripts describing 191 studies were included in this review. Most articles were from the USA (78 studies, 41%) and included medical doctors in the population (105 studies, 55%). Twelve categories of impact were generated through conventional content analysis: knowledge, practice change, skill, confidence, attitudes, career development, networking, user outcomes, intention to change, organisational change, personal change and scholarly accomplishments. Knowledge was most commonly measured (103 studies, 54%), whereas measurement of scholarly accomplishments was the least common (10 studies, 5%). Conclusions: Existing evidence takes a narrow view when assessing the impacts of CPD. Emphasis on measuring impacts as knowledge, behaviour, confidence, skills and attitudes may be due to the widely accepted four levels of evaluation from the Kirkpatrick Model or because the majority of studies used quantitative methods. The categories proposed in this review may be used to capture a broader view of the impacts of CPD programmes, contributing to the evidence base for their value and translating into CPD programmes that truly transform health professionals, their careers and their practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1099
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Education
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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