Doctors' attitudes to, beliefs about, and experiences of the regulation of professional competence: a scoping review protocol.
BACKGROUND: Historically, individual doctors were responsible for maintaining their own professional competence. More recently, changing patient expectations, debate about the appropriateness of professional self-regulation, and high-profile cases of malpractice have led to a move towards formal regulation of professional competence (RPC). Such programmes require doctors to demonstrate that they are fit to practice, through a variety of means. Participation in RPC is now part of many doctors' professional lives, yet it remains a highly contested area. Cost, limited evidence of impact, and lack of relevance to practice are amongst the criticisms cited. Doctors' attitudes towards RPC, their beliefs about its objectives and effectiveness, and their experiences of trying to meet its requirements can impact engagement with the process. We aim to conduct a scoping review to map the empirical literature in this area, to summarise the key findings, and to identify gaps for future research.
METHODS: We will conduct our review following the six phases outlined by Arksey and O'Malley, and Levac. We will search seven electronic databases: Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed, Social Sciences Full Text, and SocINDEX for relevant publications, and the websites of medical regulatory and educational organisations for documents. We will undertake backward and forward citation tracking of selected studies and will consult with international experts regarding key publications. Two researchers will independently screen papers for inclusion and extract data using a piloted data extraction tool. Data will be collated to provide a descriptive summary of the literature. A thematic analysis of the key findings will be presented as a narrative summary of the literature.
DISCUSSION: We believe that this review will be of value to those tasked with the design and implementation of RPC programmes, helping them to maximise doctors' commitment and engagement, and to researchers, pointing to areas that would benefit from further enquiry. This research is timely; internationally existing programmes are evolving, new programmes are being initiated, and many jurisdictions do not yet have programmes in place. There is an opportunity for learning across different programmes and from the experiences of established programmes. Our review will support that learning.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO does not register scoping reviews.