Background: Curricula for the teaching of evidence-based medicine to residents have been the subject of reports, analyses, and commentary. Specific programs for teaching evidence-based medicine principles to surgical subspecialty residents have not been identified by the authors. The objective of this article is to report our experience in establishing a teaching program in the principles of evidence-based medicine to surgical subspecialty residents.
Study design: We established a teaching program in the principles of evidence-based medicine for neurosurgical residents in a busy neurosurgical training program. Two hours were set aside every other week, replacing traditional professors' rounds with sessions led jointly by a neurosurgeon and an epidemiologist, but based on case presentations from patients currently being treated. From these presentations, searchable clinical questions were developed, and the literature was searched, critically analyzed, and summarized. Results of several cycles on this process are reported.
Results: The group developed a repository of Internet-based resources for evidence-based education and practice. Using these resources, the group analyzed six topics in the first 2 years of the program. These included the "best" way to clinically grade patients after subarachnoid hemmorhage, considerations in the biopsy and treatment of enhancing intracerebral mass lesions in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, the use of prophylactic anticonvulsants in patients with primary brain tumors, the identification of cervical spine injuries in the emergency department, the grading of the fractures of the odontoid process, and the value of removing retained bullets from the spinal canal. The outcomes ranged from finding insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, through the identification of well-conducted and well-reported critical syntheses of the topic already available in literature, to the development of the detailed algorithm for cervical spine clearance that was accepted by the institution's emergency department.
Conclusions: By dedicating some specific time and using resources readily available in most academic health centers, it is possible to incorporate the teaching of the principles of evidence-based practice into the ongoing education of residents on a busy surgical subspecialty service.