A Web-based compendium of clinical questions and medical evidence to educate internal medicine residents

Acad Med. 2003 Mar;78(3):270-4. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200303000-00007.


The authors designed an electronic database of clinical questions (CQs) and medical evidence and implemented it in 2001-02 at Duke University Medical Center and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. This Web-based data collection system is called the Critical Appraisal Resource (CAR) and is still in operation. This report is of ten months of the system's operation. During their medicine ward rotations, residents entered CQs into the CAR; they also entered Medline reference links and validated article summaries. Residents' utilization of the CAR database, Medline, and other electronic resources was prospectively measured. In addition, residents were prospectively surveyed regarding the impact of each question and associated reference on medical decision making for individual patients. Over ten months, residents entered 625 patient-based CQs into the CAR and were able to obtain useful information from the medical literature on 82% of the CQs they searched. The two most prevalent CQ types were therapy and diagnosis questions (53% and 22%). Sixty percent of the therapy articles considered useful were reports of randomized controlled trials. Residents obtained 77% of their useful data from Medline. They reported that obtaining useful data altered patient management 47% of the time. Residents used the CAR as a resource, searching the database for information 1,035 times over the study period. In summary, the use of an evidence-based critical appraisal resource led residents to engage the medical literature on behalf of their patients and influenced approximately half of their patient-care decisions. Residents benefited from questions previously searched by other residents, allowing them to address a wider spectrum of CQs during ward rotations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internet*
  • Internship and Residency*