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OBJECTIVE: To describe family physicians' perceived educational needs in computers and informatics. DESIGN: Mailed survey. SETTING: General or family practices in Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Physicians (489 responded to a mailing sent to 2,500 physicians) who might attend sessions at the McGill Centre for CME. Two duplicate questionnaires were excluded from the analysis. METHOD: Four domains were addressed: practice profile, clinical CME needs, professional CME needs, and preferred learning formats. Data were entered on dBASE IV; analyses were performed on SPSS. MAIN FINDINGS: In the 487 questionnaires retained for analysis, "informatics and computers" was mentioned more than any other clinical diagnostic area, any other professional area, and all but three patient groups and service areas as a topic where improvement in knowledge and skills was needed in the coming year. Most physicians had no access to computer support for practice (62.6%); physicians caring for neonates, toddlers, or hospital inpatients were more likely to report some type of computer support. CONCLUSIONS: Family physicians selected knowledge and skills for computers and informatics as an area for improvement in the coming year more frequently than they selected most traditional clinical CME topics. This educational need is particularly great in small towns and in settings where some computerized hospital data are already available.