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Public Health
Background document

Study concerning the review and mapping of continuous professional development and lifelong learning for health professionals in the EU


Publication date
6 July 2015
Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety


There is widespread recognition of the importance of continuous professional development (CPD) and life-long learning (LLL) of health professionals. CPD and LLL help to ensure that professional practice is up-to-date, contribute to improving patient outcomes and increase public confidence in the professions. National interpretations of CPD offer a rich scope of differing approaches and present opportunities for the identification of recommendations and best practices in the EU.

This study, funded under the EU Health Programme, comprises a unique mapping and review of continuous professional development and lifelong learning for doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives and pharmacists in the 28 member countries of the EU and EFTA countries. It describes the policy background to the topic, reviews available literature and illustrates the outcomes of a Europe-wide survey and expert workshop, as well as presenting an overview of EU and European-level initiatives on CPD. The study identifies policy recommendations to strengthen the exchange of cooperation and best practices at European level and highlighting the need to make efforts allowing all health professionals to undertake CPD, including addressing the main barriers identified, these being a lack of time and resources. The recommendations also call for more research into CPD and its relation to patient safety and quality of care.