Evidence-Based Medicine Training in Internal Medicine Residency Programs

A National Survey


  • Michael L. Green MD, MSc

    1. Yale Primary Care Residency Program, Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, New Haven, Conn, and Waterbury and St. Mary's Hospitals, Waterbury, Conn
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Green: Yale Primary Care Residency Program, Waterbury Hospital, 64 Robbins St., Waterbury, CT 06721 (e-mail: mgreen@wtbyhosp.chime.org)


To characterize evidence-based medicine (EBM) curricula in internal medicine residency programs, a written survey was mailed to 417 program directors of U.S. internal medicine residency programs. For programs offering a freestanding (dedicated curricular time) EBM curriculum, the survey inquired about its objectives, format, curricular time, attendance, faculty development, resources, and evaluation. All directors responded to questions regarding integrating EBM teaching into established educational venues. Of 417 program directors, 269 (65%) responded. Of these 269 programs, 99 (37%) offered a freestanding EBM curriculum. Among these, the most common objectives were performing critical appraisal (78%), searching for evidence (53%), posing a focused question (44%), and applying the evidence in decision making (35%). Although 97% of the programs provided medline, only 33% provided Best Evidence or the Cochrane Library. Evaluation was performed in 37% of the freestanding curricula. Considering all respondents, most programs reported efforts to integrate EBM teaching into established venues, including attending rounds (84%), resident report (82%), continuity clinic (76%), bedside rounds (68%), and emergency department (35%). However, only 51% to 64% of the programs provided on-site electronic information and 31% to 45% provided site-specific faculty development. One third of the training programs reported offering freestanding EBM curricula, which commonly targeted important EBM skills, utilized the residents' experiences, and employed an interactive format. Less than one half of the curricula, however, included curriculum evaluation, and many failed to provide important medical information sources. Most programs reported efforts to integrate EBM teaching, but many of these attempts lacked important structural elements.