Conversations With The ACCME: Incentivizing Surveys

You’re in for a special treat today! Not only do I have another conversation with the ACCME for you, but this one come with a special bonus conversation with the AMA! Two for the price of one! Woo hoo! (I’ll stop using “!’s” now…)

A common method for assessing the effect of a CME activity on a participant’s practice is to survey the participant at an interim time after the completion of the activity (3-months, 6-months, etc.) These follow-up surveys are nice in theory, but the execution can often times be a struggle. Pardon the cliche, but getting participants to complete a follow-up survey can be like “pulling teeth.”

As a possible method for boosting participation in my follow-up surveys, I explored the possibility of offering incentives for survey participation. I started by talking with friends in the CME world, but got a mixed bag of opinions as to whether it was OK to do incentives. Nor could I find anything in the ACCME’s or AMA’s literature that directly referenced the issue of incentives for surveys. So I sent e-mails to both of them. Below is my question and their answers.

I am investigating the possibility of offering incentives to participants for completing follow-up surveys. The time spent on completing the follow-up surveys is not factored into the overall credits issued for the activity. Would the ACCME/AMA take issue with any of the following potential incentive offerings?

  1. $75 gift certificate to an online medical bookstore
  2. $25 gift certificate to an online medical bookstore
  3. $5 Starbucks coupon
  4. Complete the survey and have your name entered into a raffle to win a free iPad
ACCME has no rules that prohibit your examples, since this occurs after the CME activity, is not awarded CME, and is beyond/not part of the CME content.

We have received similar questions regarding whether it is acceptable to offer incentives to physicians for completing surveys.  AMA Ethics policy 8.061 on Gifts to Physicians from Industry does not offer any specific guidance on the completion of surveys.  Providing a physician with a modest (which I believe your offerings are) incentive to complete a survey is a fairly common practice and ok as far as the AMA’s policy goes.

Now, for this to be complete I really should have an opinion from PhRMA. I ended up not doing this because I decided that if I would go the route of incentives for surveys, I would do it sans commercial support.  As it is, neither the ACCME nor AMA seems to have an issue with offering a modest incentive for completing a follow-up survey that is not part of the CME content.


2 responses to “Conversations With The ACCME: Incentivizing Surveys

  1. I had the exact same question answered almost 4 years ago for a similar reason. We needed follow-ups on outcomes surveys and the “head” of CME said you could not pay. I got two opinions from the AMA and two from ACCME (and ACCME was more difficult/obscure – imagine that). Even with that proof he did not want to do it. The response rates were abysmal, and the activity was funded for much less the following year. This person was a previous head of NAMEC — so out of touch.

  2. Pingback: Summary of #CMEChat 35: Re-engineering the Data Stream | Capsules

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