Concept for teaching medical students evidence-based and Cochrane methods

Session Type
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Harst L1, Deckert S1, Rüthrich L1, Haase T1, Kösters M1
1Center for Evidence-based Healthcare, University Clinic and Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

Background: Scientific methods eke out a niche existence in the education of physicians in Germany. A new model study program in Chemnitz, Germany, highlights the importance of scientific methods for medical students. A cornerstone in the education is the conduct of systematic reviews in line with the Cochrane methodology in the early phase of education.
Objectives: Presenting the concept and evaluation of an interactive course for teaching early medical students how to conduct a systematic review.
Methods: The concept was developed by three researchers experienced in conducting systematic reviews. At the beginning of the second study year, study types and basic statistics are introduced. After learning these basics, students take part in a seven sessions-course, based on parts 1 and 2 of the Cochrane Handbook. The course provides input on the essential steps of a systematic review and how to develop an individual review question. To pass the course, students have to conduct a “mini”-review in order to answer this research question. The course was evaluated by the research team which designed the course, using an online tool allowing for both questions on perceived quality of didactics and knowledge dissemination.
Results: The seven sessions were held between April and June 2022 and attended on average by 32 out of 50 eligible students. The average quality of the student-conducted reviews was graded good to satisfactory by two graders. However, a thorough qualitative analysis of common flaws revealed problems with the narrative synthesis of the results of the included studies and with identifying included study types correctly, the latter leading to falsely selected and applied critical appraisal tools. Students rated didactics of and knowledge translation within the seminar series as positive, yet missed references to their future work as medical doctors.
Conclusions: Including Cochrane standards for systematic reviews into medicine curricula early on is feasible, yet needs to build on thorough information provision of study types within evidence-based medicine earlier in the medicine curriculum.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Additionally, more effort has to be made in order to stress the relevance for the students’ future line of work.