Integrating the Cochrane Review Methodology for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis into an online learning course for medical students

Session Type
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Rüthrich L1, Harst L1, Günther L2, Kösters M1, Haase T1
1Center for Evidence-based Healthcare, University Clinic and Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

Background: In terms of capacity building in evidence production, students of medicine are an ideal target group, as they are required to be up to date with current evidence and understand the process of evidence generation in their future line of work. Therefore, students of the medical faculty of the Technische Universität Dresden have access to an online learning course for scientific methods, including the Cochrane methodology for systematic reviews.
Objectives: Implementing and evaluating an online module on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses according to the Cochrane methodology
Methods: In accordance to the Cochrane Handbook, a series of short lectures on the purpose and types of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, as well as on the necessary steps to conduct a systematic review was developed, recorded and supplemented by an online quiz on the inclusion of different study types depending on the research question. Additionally, the quiz covers questions relating to critical appraisal tools for different study types. The online learning module will allow for ad-hoc evaluation of the students’ answers and provides feedback on why an answer is correct or not, in order to foster a learning process. Usage statistics and results from a voluntary evaluation tool included within the course will be analyzed in order to assess students’ preferred content and adjust the course accordingly.
Results: The module content, student experiences and usage statistics will be presented.
Conclusions: In Germany, most medical students start working scientifically when conducting a dissertation (~ 70-80 %). Information and skills gained in curricular courses are not always readily accessible and opportunities for practical training these methods are scarce within tightly packed curricula. Therefore, on-demand online information and training opportunities may be useful for supporting genuine scientific work by students. Conducting systematic reviews is central for conducting high-quality dissertations, especially in non-laboratory but rather evidence-based medicine settings where reviews are instrumental in guideline development. The developed online module aims to support this process.