Review of the literature on Continuing Professional Development: Published by the GDC
An ADEE project team has recently completed a ‘Review of the Literature on Continuing Professional Development’ on behalf of the General Dental Council of the United Kingdom.
This extensive review provides significant and relevant detail from 184 of the publications on the range of activities, best practice and development trends in CPD. In brief, the review observed the following:
Decisions on CPD activity were typically informed by a professional's self-assessment of learning needs. Researchers found a consensus on the value of personal development plans, including the use of a portfolio to document self-assessment of learning needs, CPD activities and reflections on its impact. Mentoring and coaching were found to be helpful in the development of personal development plans, but researchers also noted the need to consider the skills of mentors or coaches, and to define roles.
The take-up of CPD activity was largely driven by its relevance to patients or practice and the inclusion of interactive elements. Learning with other professionals promoted high standards and best practice. CPD activity was also enhanced by reflective practice, but these skills were not inherent, professionals needed to be trained to reflect well.
CPD needs varied according to work setting. Researchers highlighted the need to seek innovative solutions for lone and isolated practitioners and noted that peer learning was particularly valuable to this group. E-learning was important for remote access and non-clinical skills, but professionals needed to be self-supporting for it to be effective.
Researchers found that best practice CPD models were multifaceted, and included design, development and implementation phases, as well as an evaluation on the CPD activity and its impact on behaviour, skills and practice.
There was evidence of moves towards qualitative-based CPD models, away from quantitative-based models, which tend to focus on the number of CPD hours completed. This shift was likely linked to the inability of quantitative-based models to drive improved performance or patient care.
Organisations developing CPD programmes needed to first identify the learning needs of the cohort. CPD activities that addressed learning needs were much more likely to have positive effects on practice.
The GDC will now use the findings of the review to drive the future development of CPD for dental professionals, part of its Shifting the balance reform programme. They have committed to developing a model of upstream regulation, focused on prevention and based on providing dental professionals with the information and tools they need to meet and maintain high professional standards and quality care.
The full report and the executive summary of the ADEE's Review of the Literature on Continuing Professional Development can be found here.
ADEE is most grateful to the project team:
Professor Jonathan Cowpe, emeritus professor, Cardiff University, School of Dentistry (Project Lead)
Dr Argyro Kavadella, Athens University, School of Dentistry (Lead Project Researcher)
Professor Alison Bullock, Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences, (Expert Advisor & Researcher)
Ms Emma Barnes, Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences (Search Advisor & Researcher)
Dr Barry Quinn, King’s College London (Project Researcher)