Evidence-based surgery: knowledge, attitudes, and perceived barriers among surgical trainees

J Surg Educ. Sep-Oct 2010;67(5):278-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2010.06.012.


Objectives: This study was conducted to assess the knowledge and attitude of surgical trainees toward evidence-based medicine (EBM) and their perceived barriers to its practice.

Design: The McColl questionnaire and the BARRIERS scale were modified and incorporated into a single questionnaire, which was administered to all surgical trainees attending a Continuing Surgical Education meeting.

Setting: Department of Surgery, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.

Participants: One hundred ten surgical trainees from 22 medical colleges.

Results: In all, 84.5% (93/110) trainees returned the questionnaire. The attitudes toward EBM were welcoming, although individual participants reported they welcomed EBM more than their colleagues did. Participants agreed that EBM was useful in everyday practice and that it improved patient care. About 50% of actual practice was considered evidence based. In all, 12.6% (10/89) of participants had received formal training in EBM, and 64.3% (54/84) of participants were aware of the Cochrane database of systemic reviews, but only 35.7% (30/84) read it regularly. Also, 67.8% (61/90) of respondents used protocols and guidelines developed by colleagues. However, 61.5% (56/91) of participants were interested in learning the skills of EBM. The terms absolute risk, relative risk, and clinical effectiveness were understood by >80% of respondents, whereas publication bias, confidence interval, and heterogeneity were poorly understood. The major barriers to practice of EBM were the inability to understand statistical analysis, inadequate facilities for implementation, lack of a single compiled source of literature, relevant literature not being readily available, and insufficient time on the job.

Conclusions: Surgical trainees have a positive attitude towards EBM and have some familiarity with the common terms used in EBM. There is a need to increase awareness of, and provide access to, available sources of medical literature. Formal training in EBM, as well as basic statistical analysis, should form a part of the surgical curriculum to foster an environment favorable to the practice of EBM.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Educational Status
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / education
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires