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Open Access Research article

Issues and challenges in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: Assessing the needs of cardiologists

Sean M Hayes*, Martin Dupuis and Suzanne Murray

Author Affiliations

AXDEV Group, 8 Place Commerce, Suite 210, Brossard, QC, J4W 3H2, Canada

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:30  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-30

Published: 16 May 2008



This needs assessment, initiated by the Academy for Healthcare Education Inc. in cooperation with AXDEV Group Inc., explored the knowledge, attitudes, behavior, and skills of community-based and academic-affiliated U.S. cardiologists in the area of CV risk assessment, treatment, and management from July 2006 to December 2006.


The needs assessment used a multistage, mixed-method approach to collect, analyze, and verify data from two independent sources. The exploratory phase collected data from a representative sampling of U.S. cardiologists by means of qualitative panel meetings, one-on-one interviews, and quantitative questionnaires. In the validation phase, 150 cardiologists from across the United States completed a quantitative online questionnaire. Data were analyzed with standardized statistical methods.


The needs assessment found that cardiologists have areas of weakness pertaining to their interpersonal skills, which may influence patient-physician communication and patient adherence. Cardiologists appeared to have little familiarity with or lend little credence to the concept of relative CV risk. In daily clinical practice, they faced challenges with regard to optimal patient outcome in areas of patient referral from primary-care providers, CV risk assessment and treatment, and patient monitoring. Community-based and academic-affiliated cardiologists appeared to be only moderately interested in educational interventions that pertain to CV risk-reduction strategies.


Educational interventions that target cardiologists' interpersonal skills to enhance their efficacy may benefit community-based and academic-affiliated specialists. Other desirable educational initiatives should address gaps in the patient referral process, improve patient knowledge and understanding of their disease, and provide supportive educational tools and materials to enhance patient-physician communication.