STS Members Value Scientific Research, Clinical Guidelines

STS News, Spring 2013 -- A new STS Member Needs-Assessment Survey shows that The Annals of Thoracic Surgery is the most valued STS membership benefit, followed by in-person educational opportunities such as the STS Annual Meeting, and the STS National Database.

The survey also found that STS members value clinical practice guidelines, and nearly 84% of members said they use STS evidence-based guidelines in their practice.

“The Society’s mission is to ‘enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy,’ and this survey is helping us get a better understanding about what we are doing right, where we need a course correction, and what new opportunities we can create to accomplish our mission,” said Rob Wynbrandt, STS Executive Director & General Counsel.

Last fall, STS distributed a 25-question online survey to its 5,448 members with e-mail addresses on file. The response
rate was 21.6% (1,237 members).

Who are STS Members?
The survey gave a snapshot of STS member characteristics. A large majority of respondents (81.8%) described their primary professional focus as clinical. Many (38.2%) also said they were employed in academic medicine. Hospital employment (28.1%) was the next most common, followed by group private practice (13.7%). Respondents were also more likely to focus their practices on adult cardiac procedures than on general thoracic or congenital procedures, and nearly three-quarters of Active Members (72.6%) were also members of the American College of Surgeons.

Guidelines a Practice Priority
More than three-quarters of respondents (83.9%) said they utilize STS evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, which are intended to assist physicians and other health care providers in clinical decision making by describing a range of generally acceptable approaches for the diagnosis, management, or prevention of specific diseases or conditions. Currently, 15 clinical practice guidelines are available at, with others in the pipeline.

Many members (52.5%) also said they were interested in participating in webinars on newly released guidelines. The possibility of CME credit for clinical practice guideline education appealed to the majority of respondents (76.2%).

Research has been a growing area of activity for the Society, as evidenced in the burgeoning STS Research Center and the FDA’s recently issued investigational device exemption. The survey showed that STS members want more information regarding participation in clinical trials, as well as research resources.

In-Person Education Emphasized
There are many reasons why members attend the STS Annual Meeting, and the wealth of scientific research presented is
most important, according to the members surveyed. The ability to earn CME credit and the abundant networking opportunities at the meeting were also top incentives.

And while online educational programming is growing, survey respondents ranked face-to-face interaction afforded by in-person courses as their preferred educational format. The STS/ACCF Transcatheter Heart Valve Symposium, to be held April 25–26 in Dallas, is one upcoming opportunity that all members are encouraged to attend. At least 94 comments indicated that the Society should focus its educational efforts on minimally invasive procedures over the next 5 years.

“STS leaders and senior staff will now take a deeper dive into the survey results and determine how to best prioritize and evolve member benefits in order to help our CT surgeon members provide the best quality patient care,” said Wynbrandt.