Students need to improve their use of evidence based medicine
Medical students need to improve their use of evidence based medicine, according to a recent study from the United States.1 The study, conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago, showed that, although students could apply the concepts of diagnostic testing, greater focus was needed on appraisal of validity and on the application of evidence to a particular patient.
The 164 participants were graduating medical students. They had to perform the clinical examination of a standardised patient suspected of cervical spine injury. They were asked to make a decision about whether or not they should request radiography. After that, students reviewed recent abstracts stating decision rules under which a standardised patient would not require radiography.
These abstracts of research evidence varied in two variables: validity of methods and importance of results. After reading the abstracts students repeated their decision about ordering the radiograph for their patient.
The findings of the study