Current status of the clinico-pathological conference (CPC): Has the CPC become obsolete

Academic Article


  • The CPC is a time-honored teaching conference in Medicine. Recently, its usefulness as an educational conference has been called into question with reports of declining popularity and attendance. However, there has been no reports from systematic surveys on the current status of the CPC in US teaching institutions. We surveyed all institutions listed in the 1994 National Matching Book offering Internal Medicine Residency Training utilizing a 22 item questionnaire to determine general information about the teaching program, preparation of the CPC such as case selection and protocol organization, evaluation, participation by other departments, choice and role of discussant, as well as its perceived educational value by comparing its acceptance and popularity to other teaching conferences utilizing a 5 point Likert scale (1=best, 3=average, 5=worst). We received a total of 278 responses (71 % response rate) after two mailings; of these programs, 221 (80%) had a CPC scheduled regularly, although there was a wide variation in its frequency (2-50 per year). A minority of teaching programs (10%) provided written guidelines to the discussants; only 40% formally evaluated the CPC. The Chief Resident was solely responsible for case selection and protocol preparation in 42% and 45% of institutions, respectively. Most institutions paired cases with discussant expertise. Compared to other conferences, the CPC was rated favorably in terms of educational value (2.2, 95% CI 2.1-2.3) and popularity (2.2, 95% CI 2.1-2.3). We found no significant correlation between educational value or popularity with either number of trainees or number of CPCs scheduled per year. Participation by Pathology ranged from providing final diagnosis to case selection and protocol preparation. The CPC remains a widely utilized teaching conference among Internal Medicine teaching programs. There is a great deal of variability among institutions in protocol preparation, expected goals achieved, and the evaluation of this popular conference. How it compares to other models of teaching clinical problem solving is uncertain in the opinion of practitioners. Nonetheless, it compares favorably to other teaching conferences.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Heudebert GR; McKinney WP
  • Volume

  • 44
  • Issue

  • 1