Stakeholders expect continuing professional development (CPD) to maintain, improve and broaden the knowledge and the skills of health professionals. CPD is widely held as the key to improving and fostering quality healthcare practices. Indeed, if healthcare decisions were based on the best scientific evidence available, the general agreement is that the healthcare system would be more efficient and would produce the expected effects. At present, however, the research community knows little about interventions that have successfully changed healthcare practices. Furthermore, educational meetings have rarely been evaluated and any results have been reported as modest. Consequently, CPD's evidence base needs to be improved and its use fostered by key knowledge-transfer figures.
Our team proposes to organize a workshop that unites CPD policy makers, decision makers, health services researchers, educators, and clinicians in order to identifying CPD's specific research needs and to lay the ground for an integrated research program dedicated to the development of an evidence base. This initiative's objectives are 1) to review the existing CPD evidence base and to identify any gaps; 2) to identify strategies that would address the identified gaps and would help foster the development of the evidence base; and 3) to propose a research project that would address some of the gaps identified. The proposed initiative has the potential to guide the CPD research agenda for the next few years, all while helping CPD policy makers and decision makers, health services researchers, educators, and clinicians coordinate their efforts to improve the knowledge base of CPD. It would also increase our understanding of CPD's unique contribution to population health.