A 25-item questionnaire was designed in English language, combining multiple choice and Likert response scale questions, with the option for respondents to provide further free text responses for some questions. A pilot study was conducted on a random sample of 25 physicians to determine the feasibility of using the questionnaire. Each author sent the questionnaire to a random of 10 physicians of their contacts, and 25 responded, which was considered a convenient sample. The survey was then modified as regard to formulation of the questions, formulation of response preferences, and the addition of certain demographic variables before distribution. The survey aimed to assess physicians’ attitude towards shifting scientific activities to online formats amid COVID-19 pandemic, using a 5-point Likert scale of agreeableness (’strongly disagree’, ’disagree’, ’neutral’, ’agree’, and ’strongly agree’) against certain questions. The self-administered survey was developed using “GoogleTM Forms”, which require participants to sign-in into their Google accounts to prevent multiple entries from respondents.

The educational activities can be different among medical specialties, but they mainly include; general online webinars, teaching courses on specific subjects (e.g. Botox injection), International annual conferences, or pharmaceutically-sponsored meetings discussing specific therapies.

The survey collected the following data from three domains: (1) demographic variables (age, gender, country of practice, specialty, years of experience, working role during the pandemic). (2) webinars-related variables (attendance, number of attendances per month, comparison to last year attendance, role in webinars, percentage of webinars attended in relation to the number of invitations). (3) physicians’ attitude towards webinars (general impression on shifting scientific meetings to online format, specific impression on shifting international conferences/ teaching courses versus pharmaceutically-sponsored meetings to online format, impression on the scientific content of international conferences versus pharmaceutically-sponsored meetings in online format, types of online meetings respondents prefer to attend, types of online meetings respondents reject to attend, factors determining attendance or rejection to attend online meetings, agreement on online meetings replacing in-person visits, feeling overwhelmed with the number and frequency of online meetings, agreement on the need for further regulations). In reporting the results, the data from the two columns of “strongly agree” and “agree”/ “strongly satisfied” and “satisfied” were combined and the data for “strongly disagree” and “disagree”/ “strongly dissatisfied” and “dissatisfied” were combined as well. Participants were asked at the end of the survey to give their opinion and to suggest recommendations for educational organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and policy makers, to improve physicians’ satisfaction beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full survey instrument can be viewed as an appendix to this article (S1 Appendix).

The survey link was created and initially posted on the personal social media accounts of the primary investigators and on several medical groups on Facebook. Physicians were encouraged to recruit other colleagues by resending the link to their contacts through a “snow-ball technique”. The link was posted only once on each medical group, and twice on the personal accounts of the investigators. The survey continued until there was no more responses for 1 day. The survey was closed at 23:59, November 15, 2020.

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