In good news for continuing medical education providers, respondents to Medical Meetings' 2006 Physicians’ Preferences in CME Study earned an average of 57 credits during the 12 months preceding the survey, compared to 51 last year. The highest percentage, 18 percent of respondents, earned 50 to 59 hours of credit.

Women earned an average of 77 credits per year compared to 50 for the men. By age, 45- to 55-year-olds earned the most credits, with an average of 68, followed by those older than 55 at 50 credits. In what may not be a good sign for CME in the future, those younger than 45 participated the least, with an average of 49 credits.

The credit slide we've seen in previous years has slowed down. While 17 percent of respondents said they earned fewer credits than in past years, this is an improvement over the past two years: 19 percent of respondents earned fewer credits in 2005, as did 22 percent of respondents in 2004.

Of those who did earn fewer credits, the biggest reason, cited by 63 percent of respondents, was they were too busy to take time away from their practices. The next biggest factor, picked by 54 percent, was the cost, while 17 percent said certified CME activities did not meet their needs. Only 4 percent chose employer restrictions on attendance/reimbursement-a huge change from last year, when 27 percent cited that as a reason for earning fewer credits. The year before, it was at 7 percent and was almost exclusively a problem for female respondents. This year no women said reimbursement was an issue for them. (Figures do not add up to 100 percent because physicians could pick multiple answers.)

For more survey results, watch for the January/February issue of Medical Meetings.