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Open Access Research article

General Practitioners' preferences and use of educational media: a German perspective

Horst Christian Vollmar12*, Monika A Rieger13, Martin E Butzlaff4 and Thomas Ostermann5

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Alfred-Herrhausen-Str. 50, 58448 Witten, Germany

2 Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), Karlsruhe, Breslauer Str. 48, 76139 Karlsruhe, Germany

3 Institute of Occupational andSocial Medicine, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

4 Faculty of Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany

5 Chair of Medical Theory and Complementary Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:31  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-31

Published: 16 February 2009



Several studies suggest that General Practitioners (GPs) prefer "traditional" media such as journals or quality circles when they are seeking out different options to meet their continuing medical education (CME) requirements. A survey was designed in order to gain a better understanding of German General Practitioners' preferences for different forms of educational media that will meet their CME needs.


Four hundred and forty nine (N = 449) German physicians were contacted to take part in this study on the occasion of one of their quality circle meetings. The participating physicians received a standardized 26-item-questionnaire that surveyed their preferences for different forms of educational media. A factor analysis was performed in order to determine whether the observed variables can be explained largely or entirely in terms of the underlying patterns.


Two hundred and sixty-four physicians with an average age of 51.1 years participated (28.5% female, 71.5% male). We found that GPs favor learning environments such as: journals, colleagues, and quality circles. New media like the internet was used less often for their learning activities, even though the usage of the internet in general was quite high. The most important requirements for media in medical education as perceived by the participants were its relevancy for daily practice and dependability.


Despite a growing use of the Internet it seems that German GPs favor "classical/traditional" settings for their learning activities. These results should be taken into consideration when planning CME or CPD programs or other learning activities.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN36550981.