General Dental Council publishes CPD literature review research

As part of Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation, the General Dental Council (GDC) made a commitment to develop a model of CPD which encourages and enables dental professionals to take ownership of CPD planning, development and innovation. Today, the regulator took the next step in delivering on this commitment by publishing a systematic literature review on CPD. The new research was commissioned to ensure the GDC’s proposals to further develop CPD systems and regulation are evidence-based, innovative and fit for the future.

The literature review covered more than 800 papers and took data from 184 relevant publications, in addition to a survey circulated widely to relevant research area experts. The resulting report summarises evidence from across healthcare and non-healthcare sectors on the variety of CPD activities including areas of best practice, variations in different work settings, influence of ‘insight and intelligence’, and qualitative-based CPD models.

GDC Head of Regulatory Intelligence, David Teeman, said:

“Following the successful introduction of enhanced CPD in 2018 which made the first steps towards a more meaningful approach to life-long learning in dentistry, we needed a clear and robust evidence-base to provide the grounding for the next stage of CPD development. This systematic review of literature provides just that ahead of the development work taking place early this year and, ultimately, our planned wider engagement with stakeholders on the further developments to CPD this summer.”

The review’s key findings include:

  • A clear shift from regulators, both inside and outside of health, towards qualitative-based CPD models and away from quantitative-based models, which tend to focus on the number of CPD hours completed. This shift is likely linked to the inability of quantitative-based models to drive improved performance or patient care.
  • Take-up of CPD activity is largely driven by its relevance to patients or practice and the inclusion of interactive elements. CPD activity is also enhanced by reflective practice, but these skills are not inherent, and professionals need to be trained in how to reflect well.
  • A consensus in the literature on the value of personal development plans to document self-assessment of learning needs, CPD activity and reflections on its impact

The GDC commissioned the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) to undertake the research, which was carried out over the five months from June to October 2018.

Project Lead at the ADEE, Professor Jonathan Cowpe, said:

“Our work demonstrates that there is much change in how CPD is being recognised and managed by different professional groups, across healthcare and non-healthcare sectors. It recognises the general shift seems to be away from simply counting CPD hours, towards increasingly robust processes that are more concerned with how on-going education makes a difference to practice. This should strengthen the direction described by the GDC in Shifting the balance and can be used to inform further developments towards a more qualitative approach to the CPD requirements for the dental workforce.”

The full literature review report is available on the GDC’s website. The GDC is planning a consultation on its proposed further developments of CPD in the Summer of 2019.

For further information contact Tom Chappell, Media Manager on, 020 7167 6044 or 07738 182756  

Editors Notes

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the UK-wide statutory regulator of just over 100,000 members of the dental team, including approximately 40,000 dentists and 60,000 dental care professionals. Our primary purpose is to protect patient safety and maintain public confidence in dental services. To achieve this, we register qualified dental professionals, set standards of dental practice, investigate complaints about dental professionals' fitness to practise, and work to ensure the quality of dental education. The Dentists Act 1984 provides the legislative framework for our work. For more information visit

The Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE), was founded in 1975 as an independent European organisation representing academic dentistry and the community of dental educators. Since then, ADEE has played an important role by enhancing the quality of education, advancing the professional development of dental educators and supporting research in education and training of oral health personnel. ADEE brings together a broad-based membership across Europe comprised of dental schools, specialist societies and national associations concerned with dental education. ADEE is committed to the advancement of the highest level of health care for all people of Europe through its mission statements. In undertaking this review on behalf of the GDC, the ADEE continued to sustain the work undertaken on their DentCPD European project. This resulted in the publication of the Dental CPD Reference Manual. For more information visit

Shifting the balance: a better, fairer system of dental regulation sets out the GDC’s proposals to reform dental regulation. It addresses out how we will work collaboratively with our partners to develop a model of upstream regulation that involves professionals and their regulator working together in the interests of patient safety and public protection. For more information about the Shifting the balance proposals visit

The Enhanced CPD scheme came into force on 1 January 2018 for dentists and 1 August 2018 for dental care professionals. CPD for dental professionals is defined in law as “learning, training or other developmental activities which can reasonably be expected to maintain and develop a person’s practice as a dentist or dental care professional, and is relevant to the person’s field of practice”. CPD cannot be a one-size-fits-all - to be effective it must to be tailored to the individual’s needs. The Enhanced CPD scheme is designed to be flexible, so activity can be planned to suit the individual’s professional needs across their five-year cycle. For more information visit




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The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

Visit for more information.

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