Introduction: Continuing medical education (CME) could be beneficial to physicians in managing public health problems, yet CME courses rarely address these topics. The purpose of our study was to assess whether leading public health problems, in alignment with their burdens on society, have a proportionate amount of CME opportunities for healthcare professionals.
Methods: We reviewed all of the CME courses offered by the top 10 research and top 10 primary care medical schools from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019 for CME hours directed toward the leading public health problems: diabetes, obesity, smoking, substance abuse, heart disease, COPD, lung cancer, back pain, and depression.
Results: There were 9355 total hours of course time during the study period. Diabetes had 202 hours, or 2.2% of the total course hours. Obesity had 118 course hours, which was 1.3% of the total course hours, and smoking cessation had 75 (0.8%) hours of the total course time. No public health problem had more than 2.6% of the total CME hours.
Discussion: Public health problems were grossly underrepresented in the amount of dedicated course time compared to their burden on society. Diabetes affects 34 million people in the US at an annual cost of $327 billion, obesity affects 93 million adults at an annual cost of $147 billion, and smoking affects 43 million adults at an annual cost to society of $300 billion. More CME courses offerings addressing management of the leading public health problems would likely reduce the burden of illnesses associated with those conditions.