Continuing Professional Development in Rheumatology for Primary Care Clinicians: A Systematic Review

Rachel C. Robbins*, Joseph M. Maciuba, Lauren A. Maggio, Anita Samuel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the quality of published rheumatology-focused continuing professional development (CPD) for primary care clinicians (PCCs) for improving the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. Methods: The authors conducted a systematic review of CPD focused on rheumatology topics for PCCs. A librarian systematically searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, ERIC, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Sinico. Studies were limited to those conducted in North America after 1993. An extraction form that included the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument and the Kirkpatrick levels of learning outcomes was created through an iterative process and applied to the included articles. Results: In total, 725 articles were retrieved, of which 9 were included. Results showed that CPD was directed more at noninflammatory arthritis than inflammatory arthritis. Autoimmune diseases were underrepresented; 4 studies discussed rheumatoid arthritis, and 1 study examined rheumatologic topics broadly. Newer research tended to include multimodal approaches that combined didactic and active learning strategies, showing an evolution toward more active learning. Although online learning is increasingly popular, interventions were predominantly face-to-face, with only a single example of e-learning. Studies were predominantly of moderate quality. Conclusion: Published studies of rheumatology-focused CPD are moving toward more interactive teaching modalities and are typically conducted in person, although virtual options for rheumatology-focused CPD should be explored to improve access to CPD. Autoimmune disease is an uncommon topic in CPD and represents an area for future expansion. Efficacy was difficult to assess given that most of the studies assessed for learner satisfaction, knowledge acquisition, or behavior change, whereas only 1 study focused on patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-742
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


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