JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Teaching evidence based medicine to surgery residents-is journal club the best format? A systematic review of the literature

Negar Ahmadi, Margaret E McKenzie, Anthony Maclean, Carl J Brown, Tara Mastracci, Robin S McLeod
Journal of Surgical Education 2012, 69 (1): 91-100
22208839

OBJECTIVE: Systematic reviews were performed to assess methods of teaching the evidence-based medicine (EBM) process and determine which format or what components of journal club appear to be most effective in teaching critical appraisal skills to surgical residents and have the highest user satisfaction.

DESIGN: MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, AMED, PsychINFO, PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Google scholar were searched to identify relevant articles. To be included, studies had to provide details about the format of their EBM curriculum or journal club and report on the effectiveness or participant satisfaction. Potentially relevant articles were independently reviewed by 2 authors and data were extracted on separate data forms.

RESULTS: Seven studies met the inclusion criteria for assessment of teaching EBM and 8 studies (including 3 in the EBM systematic review) met criteria for assessment of journal club format. Overall, study quality was poor. Only 2 studies were randomized controlled trials. Five were before-after studies, which showed significant improvement in critical appraisal skills or statistical knowledge following an EBM course or journal club. The 2 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) compared teaching EBM or critical appraisal skills in lecture format or journal club to online learning. There was no significant difference in mean scores in 1 study whereas the other reported significantly better scores in the journal club format. Four studies reported high participant satisfaction with the EBM course or journal club format.

CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence that courses with or without the addition of journal clubs lead to improved knowledge of the EBM process although the impact on patient care is unknown. Journal clubs seem to be the preferred way of teaching critical appraisal skills but while some components of journal clubs are favored by participants, it remains unclear which elements are most important for resident learning.

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