Background: An evidence-based approach to health care is recognized internationally as a key competency for healthcare practitioners. This overview systematically evaluated and organized evidence from systematic reviews on teaching evidence-based health care (EBHC).
Methods/findings: We searched for systematic reviews evaluating interventions for teaching EBHC to health professionals compared to no intervention or different strategies. Outcomes covered EBHC knowledge, skills, attitudes, practices and health outcomes. Comprehensive searches were conducted in April 2013. Two reviewers independently selected eligible reviews, extracted data and evaluated methodological quality. We included 16 systematic reviews, published between 1993 and 2013. There was considerable overlap across reviews. We found that 171 source studies included in the reviews related to 81 separate studies, of which 37 are in more than one review. Studies used various methodologies to evaluate educational interventions of varying content, format and duration in undergraduates, interns, residents and practicing health professionals. The evidence in the reviews showed that multifaceted, clinically integrated interventions, with assessment, led to improvements in knowledge, skills and attitudes. Interventions improved critical appraisal skills and integration of results into decisions, and improved knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour amongst practicing health professionals. Considering single interventions, EBHC knowledge and attitude were similar for lecture-based versus online teaching. Journal clubs appeared to increase clinical epidemiology and biostatistics knowledge and reading behavior, but not appraisal skills. EBHC courses improved appraisal skills and knowledge. Amongst practicing health professionals, interactive online courses with guided critical appraisal showed significant increase in knowledge and appraisal skills. A short workshop using problem-based approaches, compared to no intervention, increased knowledge but not appraisal skills.
Conclusions: EBHC teaching and learning strategies should focus on implementing multifaceted, clinically integrated approaches with assessment. Future rigorous research should evaluate minimum components for multifaceted interventions, assessment of medium to long-term outcomes, and implementation of these interventions.