That's what the the Pri-Med Research Clinical Outcomes Study found, anyway. From the press release:
The Pri-Med Research Clinical Outcomes Study surveyed primary care practitioners attending Pri-Med Updates conferences in 55 cities across the US throughout 2004. To measure changes in practice behavior resulting from the CME learning experience, participants were surveyed two weeks prior to the conference and four-to-six weeks after the event. The study addressed the diagnosis and treatment of thirteen conditions commonly presented in primary care, across a spectrum from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases to clinical depression, diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.
Among practitioners surveyed, a significant increase could be seen for both knowledge and adherence to clinical standards (a 15% and 13% increase, respectively) based on information presented at the CME program. Furthermore, confidence in treating patients increased an average of 16%.
"Self reported changes in knowledge, application of best practice standards and confidence in treatment have an immediate impact on patient care and clinical outcomes," Alan Lotvin, MD, president of Pri-Med, said. "It is clear evidence that effective CME translates directly into better healthcare."
Impact Varies Widely With Diagnosis
"Not surprisingly, the effect of CME in improving clinical practice behavior is more pronounced in relation to conditions primary care physicians encounter less frequently," Marissa Seligman, Chief Clinical and Regulatory Affairs Officer, VP of Pri-Med Institute, said. "The study correlated reported changes in knowledge and application of clinical guidelines as well as confidence in treatment with the average number of patients seen each week across thirteen disease categories. The most significant changes in practice behavior were seen in less commonly treated conditions such as anemia, genitourinary infections, sleep disorders, neuropathic disorders, and sexual dysfunctions. For cardiovascular, gastrointestinal conditions and allergies, the greatest impact of CME can be seen in its ability to reinforce and expand knowledge among practitioners who regularly treat these conditions."