Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Developing a theory-based instrument to assess the impact of continuing professional development activities on clinical practice: a study protocol

France Légaré1*, Francine Borduas2, André Jacques3, Réjean Laprise4, Gilles Voyer5, Andrée Boucher6, Francesca Luconi7, Michel Rousseau8, Michel Labrecque1, Joan Sargeant9, Jeremy Grimshaw10 and Gaston Godin11

Author Affiliations

1 Research Center of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, Hospital St-François D'Assise, Québec, Canada

2 Continuing Professional Development Office, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

3 Practice Enhancement Division, Collège des médecins du Québec, Montréal, Canada

4 Office of Professional Development, Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec, Montréal, Canada

5 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada

6 Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

7 Center for Continuing Health Professional Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Canada

8 Departement of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

9 Division of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

10 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada

11 Faculty of Nursing, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

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Implementation Science 2011, 6:17  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-17

Published: 7 March 2011



Continuing professional development (CPD) is one of the principal means by which health professionals (i.e. primary care physicians and specialists) maintain, improve, and broaden the knowledge and skills required for optimal patient care and safety. However, the lack of a widely accepted instrument to assess the impact of CPD activities on clinical practice thwarts researchers' comparisons of the effectiveness of CPD activities. Using an integrated model for the study of healthcare professionals' behaviour, our objective is to develop a theory-based, valid, reliable global instrument to assess the impact of accredited CPD activities on clinical practice.


Phase 1: We will analyze the instruments identified in a systematic review of factors influencing health professionals' behaviours using criteria that reflect the literature on measurement development and CPD decision makers' priorities. The outcome of this phase will be an inventory of instruments based on social cognitive theories. Phase 2: Working from this inventory, the most relevant instruments and their related items for assessing the concepts listed in the integrated model will be selected. Through an e-Delphi process, we will verify whether these instruments are acceptable, what aspects need revision, and whether important items are missing and should be added. The outcome of this phase will be a new global instrument integrating the most relevant tools to fit our integrated model of healthcare professionals' behaviour. Phase 3: Two data collections are planned: (1) a test-retest of the new instrument, including item analysis, to assess its reliability and (2) a study using the instrument before and after CPD activities with a randomly selected control group to explore the instrument's mere-measurement effect. Phase 4: We will conduct individual interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders to identify anticipated barriers and enablers for implementing the new instrument in CPD practice. Phase 5: Drawing on the results from the previous phases, we will use consensus-building methods to develop with the decision makers a plan to implement the new instrument.


This project proposes to give stakeholders a theory-based global instrument to validly and reliably measure the impacts of CPD activities on clinical practice, thus laying the groundwork for more targeted and effective knowledge-translation interventions in the future.