Value of continuing medical education

The study involved 54 GPs and 88 patients with coronary heart disease. They were divided into two groups.

Both groups of GPs were sent guidelines, about lipid lowering in coronary heart disease, based on the results of the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study. In addition, the GPs in the intervention group attended one or two seminars each year for two years.

An independent organisation monitored the patients for two years. Concentrations of LDL cholesterol fell in the intervention group, but not in the control group.

After 10 years, 44% of the patients in the control group had died, compared with 22% of the intervention group. This difference was significant even after controlling for factors such as age, sex, hypertension and diabetes.

The difference in all cause mortality was due to a reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease in the patients whose GPs had attended the seminars.