A study published earlier this year in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that, while 88 percent of clinicians believe that commercial support injects bias into CME activities, only 15 percent want to do away with it altogether. More than half of respondents (56 percent) said they agreed or strongly agreed that commercial support is essential for accredited CME.

Conducted by academics at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and International AIDS Society–USA, the study surveyed healthcare professionals at five live HIV CME activities about their attitudes toward the commercial support of CME. The purpose of the survey was to learn how well HCPs understand the costs involved in CME, their beliefs around commercial support and bias in CME, and whether they’d be willing to pay more out of pocket or forgo some frills to reduce the need for commercial support.

The 770 respondents said that their perception of bias increased with the funding level: 46 percent said an activity that received 20 percent of its funding through commercial support might be biased, while a 100-percent-supported activity looked dicey to 86 percent of respondents. Single-supported activities also were perceived as more likely to be biased than those with multiple supporters. Only 42 percent, however, said they’d be willing to pay more in registration fees to reduce the need for commercial support. Roughly half said they’d be willing to take cost-cutting measures instead, such as replacing printed curricula with online versions, holding activities at “less desirable" venues, and eliminating the free food. The percentage of respondents who said they’d be willing to cut the number of available activities or speakers, or limit the number CME credits awarded barely made it to the double digits.

Discussion Points:

  • Do you think the current ACCME regulations are sufficient to keep commercial support from biasing accredited CME activities?
  • If not commercial support, how should CME be funded?
  • This debate has been ongoing for quite a while—do you believe a resolution is possible, or that it will continue to remain a bone of contention indefinitely?

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