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The aim of this study was to identify elements of occupational medicine practice used on a frequent basis which are considered to be of high priority for continuing professional development (CPD).A postal questionnaire covering 28 areas of knowledge or practice was sent to all members of the Society of Occupational Medicine in September 2000. Respondents were asked to allocate scores to the 28 items for both CPD priority and frequency of use.The return rate for questionnaires was 29.5%. There was reasonable agreement between frequency of use and CPD priority ratings for the elements covered in the questionnaire.Despite the low return rate for questionnaires, this survey has helped identify themes which are important to physicians practising occupational medicine and has also highlighted those which are less important for inclusion in a CPD programme. Some differences in responses were identified between accredited specialists, specialist registrars and non-specialist practitioners of occupational medicine. The findings from this survey should be useful to providers of continuing medical education in planning courses, study days and electronic or distance learning educational packages.