Needs Assessment

A needs assessment is an analysis of the type of CME that is needed by the intended audience for
a CME program, which has been proposed or conducted. The results of a needs assessment are
used in the design and planning of the content and delivery modality for CME programs. There
are four criteria that must be met when requesting AOA Category 1-A or Category 1-B credit for

  1. The needs assessment must be conducted on an annual basis for each program.
  2. A needs assessment must be included for each presentation.
  3. The needs assessment must be timely – current for the field.
  4. The needs assessment must be documented – at least one source must be evidence-based.

Needs Assessment Sources

  • Surveys (including survey of past activity participants, and survey of target audience)
  • Committee Meeting minutes
  • Expert opinion
  • Evaluation results/Reports from other educational activities
  • Informal discussions/interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Consensus conferences
  • Epidemiological data
  • New advances in clinical treatments/evidence-based sources
  • Legislative or organizational changes that affect patient care
  • Quality assurance data
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles

Guidance on development of a needs assessment/gap analysis for your program can be requested
through the CME Office. Please contact Patti Stubenberg

Practice Gaps

The professional practice gap is the difference between the current state of knowledge, skills,
competence, practice, performance or patient outcomes and the ideal or optimal state.

Checklist for Practice Gap CME Activity Planning

- What is the practice gap to be addressed?
- Is the practice gap in physician knowledge, competence, performance, or patient outcomes?
- What is the physician target audience?
- What are the potential or real barriers facing these physicians in addressing the gap?
- What are the desired results or activity for change?
- Based on the desired results, what are the objectives for the activity?
- Are there FSMB Maintenance of Licensure (MoL), ABMS  Maintenance of Certification (MoC) programs,
  or AOA core competencies related to this change?
- Are there other departments/initiatives for working collaboratively on the issue?
- Based on the determined need of the target audience and the identified gap, what content should be covered?
- What is the best instructional method?
- How will the activity be evaluated?

CME Outcomes Measurement and Descriptions

Outcomes Measurement: The tabulation, calculation, or recording of activity or effort that can
be expressed in a quantitative or qualitative manner (when attempting to measure shifts or
progress toward desired levels of quality).

Knowledge:     The degree to which participants state what the CME activity intended them to
                          know and how to do what the CME activity intended them to know how to do.

Competence:   The degree to which participants show in an educational setting how to do what
                          the CME activity intended them to do.

Performance:  The degree to which participants do what the CME activity intended them to be
                          able to do in their practices.

Patient Outcomes:  The degree to which the health status of patients improves due to changes in the
                                  practice behavior of participants.

Frameworks for Outcomes Measurement in CME

There are several frameworks for outcomes measurement in CME practice. Three are illustrated

  1. Moore’s Seven Levels of CME Outcome Measures
  2. Miller’s Pyramid of Assessment


Moore's Seven Levels of CME Outcome Measures


Miller's Pyramid of Assessment

Adapted from: Ramani S, Leinster S, AMEE Guide no 34: Teaching in the clinical environment. Medical Teacher, 2008:30(4):347-364.


PRECEDE - PROCEED Model (Green & Kreuter)