Several published articles have described the importance of exposing medical trainees to the ‘new paradigm’ of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Recognizing this, we sought to develop and objectively evaluate a mini-course in EBM for third-year medical students.
We developed a mini-course consisting of four sessions in which students learn to derive sequentially focused questions, search MEDLINE, review articles critically and apply information from the literature to specific clinical questions. To evaluate the teaching intervention, we performed a controlled educational study. Students at the intervention site (n=34) attended the EBM mini-course, while students at the control site (n=26) received more ‘traditional’ didactic teaching on various clinical topics. Intervention and control students were surveyed immediately before and after the mini-course to assess changes in reading and literature searching skills, as well as a tendency to use the literature to answer clinical questions.
Boston University School of Medicine.
Third-year medical students.
The intervention was associated with significant changes in students’ self-assessed skills and attitudes. MEDLINE and critical appraisal skills increased significantly in the intervention group relative to the control group (significance of between group differences: P=0·002 for MEDLINE and P=0·0002 for critical appraisal), as did students’ tendency to use MEDLINE and original research articles to solve clinical problems (significance of between group differences: P=0·002 and P=0·0008, respectively).
We conclude that this brief teaching intervention in EBM has had a positive impact on student skills and attitudes at our medical school. We believe that the key elements of this intervention are (1) active student involvement, (2), clinical relevance of exercises and (3) integrated teaching targeting each of the component skills of EBM.