The practice of internal medicine in Europe: organisation, clinical conditions and procedures

Mark Cranston, Colin Semple, Roger Duckitt, Moshe Vardi, Stefan Lindgren, Christopher Davidson, Runolfur Palsson - for the European Board of Internal Medicine Competencies Working Group
10 October 2013

Background: Current information on the role of internists in the European countries is scarce. This report describes the results of a survey of the practice of internists in Europe.
Methods: Two online questionnaire-based surveys were carried out by the European Board of Internal Medicine, one on the practice of internists and the other on postgraduate training in internal medicine. The national inter- nal medicine societies of all 30 member countries of the European Federation of Internal Medicine were invited to participate. The responses were reviewed by internal medicine trainees from the respective countries and summaries of the data were sent to the national societies for approval. Descriptive analysis of the data on the practice of internists was carried out.

Results: Twenty-seven countries (90%) completed the questionnaire and approved their datasets. In 8 European countries, most internists practised internal medicine alone and in 7 countries at least half of physicians practised internal medicine together with a subspecialty. Internal medicine was considered a hospital-based specialty in most countries. The majority of selected presenting problems and diagnoses were rated as commonly encountered in all countries. More variability between countries was observed in the performance of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Conclusion: Many similarities exist in the practice of internal medicine between the European countries, while some differences are present that likely reflect the variable impact of subspecialisation. The results of the survey should prove valuable for the definition of specific competencies and development of a common curriculum for internal medicine at the European level.