The planning and execution of continuous education in an organization that provides health services is a complex process. The objectives, learning sequences, and implementation strategies should all be oriented to improving the health of the population. The aim of this study was to analyse the expectations and perceptions of continuous educations by primary healthcare professionals (physicians and nurses) and identify aspects that hinder or encourage the process.
A qualitative study with 5 focus groups made up of 25 primary healthcare professionals from the Catalan Health Institute, Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). The focus groups were audio-recorded and the results transcribed. The analysis involved: a) Reading of the data looking for meanings b) Coding of the data by themes and extracting categories c) Reviewing and refining codes and categories d) Reconstruction of the data providing an explanatory framework for the meanings e) Discussion about the interpretations of the findings and f) Discussed with relevant professionals from PHC (physicians and nurses)"Data regarding thematic content were analyzed with the support of Atlasti 5.1 software.
The health needs of the population were often at the core of the learning processes but the participants' views did not always spontaneously refer to improvements in these issues. Common themes that could hinder learning and where identified, including contextual aspects such as work constraints (timetables, places being covered during training) and funding policies. New learning strategies to improve the effectiveness of continuous education were proposed such as the exchange of knowledge, the activation of personal commitment to change, and the improvement of organizational aspects.
The primary healthcare professionals in our study viewed continuous education as a professional necessity and would like to translate the knowledge acquired to improving the health of the population. Nevertheless, professional, structural, and organizational issues impede the process.