Crowdsourcing trainees in a living systematic review provided valuable experiential learning opportunities: a mixed-methods study

Session Type
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Lee C1, Thomas M2, Ejaredar M2, Kassam A2, Whittle S3, Buchbinder R3, Tugwell P4, Wells G5, Pardo Pardo J4, Hazlewood G2
1University of Alberta, Canada
2University of Calgary, Canada
3Monash University, Australia
4University of Ottawa, Canada
5University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada

Background: Evidence-based medicine educators are continually looking for new ways to engage trainees in experiential learning. Living systematic reviews (LSRs) could serve as a mechanism for ensuring an ongoing opportunity for this type of learning.
Objectives: To understand trainee experiences of participating in a living systematic review (LSR) for rheumatoid arthritis and the potential benefits in terms of experiential evidence-based medicine education.
Methods: We initiated a Cochrane LSR and network meta-analysis (NMA) on drug therapy for rheumatoid arthritis that is informing living guidelines in Canada and Australia. We conducted a mixed-methods study with a wide range of medical trainees (undergraduates, medical students, residents, fellows, practicing rheumatologists, and researchers) who participated in the LSR and who were recruited broadly from training programs in two countries. Trainees received task-specific training and completed one or more tasks in the review: assessing article eligibility, data extraction, and quality assessment. Trainees completed a survey followed by a one-on-one interview. Data were triangulated to produce broad themes.
Results: Twenty one trainees, most of whom had a little prior experience with systematic reviews, reported a positive overall experience. Key benefits included learning opportunities, task segmentation (ability to focus on a single task, as opposed to an entire review), working in a supportive environment, international collaboration, and incentives such as authorship or acknowledgment. Trainees reported improvement in their competency as a Scholar, Collaborator, Leader, and Medical Expert. Challenges included communication and technical difficulties and appropriate matching of tasks to trainee skillsets.
Conclusions: Participating in an LSR provided benefits to a wide range of trainees and may provide an opportunity for experiential evidence-based medicine training, while helping LSR sustainability.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Nil, this study involved a wide range of medical trainees.