A community of learners in the evidence-based dental clinic

Eur J Dent Educ. 2012 Feb;16(1):e174-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0579.2011.00693.x. Epub 2011 May 31.


An increasing emphasis has been placed on the need for an evidence-based approach in dentistry. This calls for effort in dental education to develop and implement tools for the application of evidence in clinical decision-making (evidence-based decision-making, EBDM).

Aim: To evaluate whether the implementation of a community of learners (COL) within a clinical EBDM course enables students, clinical teachers and scientists to discuss the application of evidence in clinical decision-making and whether it stimulates a scientific approach in students.

Material and methods: A clinical course in EBDM was created. Students presented and discussed patient cases in a COL of student-peers, clinical teachers and scientists. From the discussion, clinical questions arose and were translated into PICO format (Problem, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome). Students searched for evidence in the literature. Four weeks later, they presented and discussed the evidence found. Before and after the implementation of the course, students, clinical teachers and scientists completed a questionnaire anonymously on the procedure adopted, its content, the learning outcomes and their appreciation of this course. Assessment of the competence EBDM was performed at the end of the course. Grading scores of students in the COL were compared with scores of a student group that did not participate in the COL and were not advised by scientists.

Results: Evaluation showed that scientists, clinical teachers and students gradually became more positive on the adopted procedure, content, learning outcomes and the appreciation of this course (ANOVA Bonferoni P<0.05). The student's evaluation showed the development of a more scientific approach. Assessment scores of EBDM were sufficient and promising.

Conclusion: A stimulating arena was created: a COL, in which the evidence used in clinical decision-making, was discussed. The COL involved dental students, clinical teachers and scientists. In this setting, an EBDM course appeared to result in a more scientific approach from dental students. The COL provided a good working concept for EBDM in dental education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Dental / organization & administration*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Evidence-Based Dentistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Program Evaluation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires