Objectives To explore the availability of postgraduate education for rheumatology health professionals (HPs) in Europe, to define HPs' educational needs, including Eular's role and its activities across Europe, and to identify potential barriers.
Methods An interview guide to obtain information from national representatives of rheumatology HPs' organisations and an online survey for individual HPs were prepared by a team of HPs from multiple disciplines, two rheumatologists and a patient representative (Educational subcommittee of the Eular Standing Committee of Health Professionals in Rheumatology). The interviews were conducted by telephone or in person by members of the team. The English online survey was translated into Czech, Danish, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. The interviews and survey comprised questions on: availability of postgraduate education, familiarity with Eular and its educational offerings, needs regarding the contents and mode of delivery of education and potential barriers to participate in education (0–10 scales). Access information for (translated versions of) the online survey was circulated to national representatives of rheumatology HPs' organisations for dissemination among their contacts, to individual HPs who had once visited the Eular annual congress, and was announced on the EULAR Website and in the Eular HPs' newsletter.
Results Interviews with representatives from 17 countries were conducted. Overall, the number of countries where postgraduate rheumatology education was reported to be available was 13/17 for nurses, 8/17 for physical therapists and 7/17 for occupational therapists, and 3 or less countries for other disciplines. There were 1041 responses to the online survey (216 English and 824 translated version), from 19 European countries. The mean (SD) age of the respondents was 41 (11) years, 897 (86%) were female. 545 (56%) were familiar with Eular, 201 (21%) had once or more attended the Eular annual conference, and 137 (14%) were familiar with Eular online courses. Educational need scores were highest for “Inflammatory arthritis” (6.5 SD 2.8) and “Connective Tissue Diseases” (6.5 SD 2.7) regarding content and for “Courses in English organised in own country” (5.7 SD 3.5) and “Eular online course” (5.7 SD 3.4) concerning mode of delivery. The most important perceived barriers to participate in educational offerings included “Lack of resources” (7.2 SD 2.8), “Lack of time” (5.8 SD 2.9) and “Lack of mastery of the English Language” (5.8 SD 3.4; Participants in translated survey only).
Conclusions With the exception of education for nurses, there is a lack of postgraduate rheumatology education for HPs in the majority of countries. There are opportunities to raise familiarity with Eular and its educational offerings, with considerable interest in online courses and courses provided in HPs' own country with lack of English language skills being an important aspect to take into account.
Acknowledgement This project was financially supported by Eular.
Disclosure of Interest None declared