An interactive web-based curriculum on evidence-based medicine: Design and effectiveness

Katherine Schilling, John Wiecha, Deepika Polineni, Souad Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Medical education experts have called for improved training in evidence-based medicine (EBM) and the increased use of e-learning technologies in medical education. In response, we developed an interactive, Web-based curriculum on key aspects of EBM in family medicine. Methods: Students participating in a 6-week family medicine clerkship (n=238) were randomly assigned to intervention (n=134) or control (n=104) groups. Both groups participated in the traditional clerkship experience, but intervention group students received additional training via an on-line curriculum that included learning modules in MEDLINE searching skills, EBM skills, and the calculation of the number needed to treat (NNT) statistic. The on-line curriculum was evaluated using a case-control design with a test case at the clerkship's end. Results: Results suggested that the on-line curriculum was effective, with experimental group students outperforming control group participants on a variety of measures, including the number of MEDLINE searches conducted during the clerkship (13 searches versus 3 searches) and the quality of literature search strategies on an evaluation patient case study (2.9 versus 2.1 on a 1=poor to 4=excellent scale). Intervention group students reported greater confidence and enjoyment in searching the biomedical journal literature via MEDLINE and were more likely to identify the best articles (randomized controlled trials or meta-analyses) for the evaluation case from among those retrieved (60% versus 34%). In addition, intervention group students' abilities to correctly calculate the NNT were significantly higher than those of control group participants (73% versus 27%). Intervention group students were more likely than control subjects to report learning from other students during the clerkship. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that an e-learning approach to educating medical students to effectively search MEDLINE for articles meeting the criteria for evidence-based practice can result in higher-quality literature search strategies, identification of higher-quality evidence, and improved confidence in information retrieval and analysis skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


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