Background: At postgraduate level evidence based medicine (EBM) is currently taught through tutor based lectures. Computer based sessions fit around doctors' workloads, and standardise the quality of educational provision. There have been no randomized controlled trials comparing computer based sessions with traditional lectures at postgraduate level within medicine.
Methods: This was a randomised controlled trial involving six postgraduate education centres in the West Midlands, U.K. Fifty five newly qualified foundation year one doctors (U.S internship equivalent) were randomised to either computer based sessions or an equivalent lecture in EBM and systematic reviews. The change from pre to post-intervention score was measured using a validated questionnaire assessing knowledge (primary outcome) and attitudes (secondary outcome).
Results: Both groups were similar at baseline. Participants' improvement in knowledge in the computer based group was equivalent to the lecture based group (gain in score: 2.1 [S.D = 2.0] versus 1.9 [S.D = 2.4]; ANCOVA p = 0.078). Attitudinal gains were similar in both groups.
Conclusion: On the basis of our findings we feel computer based teaching and learning is as effective as typical lecture based teaching sessions for educating postgraduates in EBM and systematic reviews.