Dietitians' perceptions of the continuing professional development system in South Africa
Objective: To retrospectively evaluate the South African Continuing Professional Development (CPD) system (previous and current) for dietitians, by determining their perceptions of the system's implementation and participation in CPD activities. Design: An observational descriptive study in the quantitative and qualitative research domains. Methods: A national survey of 1 589 dietitians was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire, followed by 3 focus group discussions (FGD) with 19 Pretoria-based dietitians. In-depth interviews were also conducted with 6 CPD/Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) administrative personnel. Results: Twenty per cent of dietitians responded to the survey. The CPD administration fee was unreasonable to 54.5% (N=156) of dietitians and most FGD participants. CPD activities were expensive to 55% (N=164) of respondents while 29% (N=88)of respondents, in agreement with the FGD participants, acknowledged the availability of variably priced activities. Statistically significant cost differences were determined across practice areas, qualifications and provinces. Lectures and seminars were activities most commonly participated in, followed by conferences and articles with multiple choice questions (MCQs) from peer reviewed literature. However, conferences ranked highest as the most preferred activity. Barriers to CPD activities included costs, geographical access, obtaining leave from work, family obligations and internet access. More dietitians were satisfied with the service quality at the CPD office and the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) than with that provided by the HPCSA, but requested simpler correspondence from all these offices. In the current system, dietitians need to keep their own CPD records, but 51.7% (N = 161) preferred not to do so. Conclusions: Addressing factors affecting CPD participation will contribute to the acceptability of the system by dietitians.