Awareness, attitudes, barriers, and knowledge about evidence-based medicine among family physicians in Croatia: a cross-sectional study

BMC Fam Pract. 2020 May 16;21(1):88. doi: 10.1186/s12875-020-01162-5.


Background: Evidence-based medicine (EBM) aims to assist physicians in making medical decisions based on the integration of the current best evidence, clinical expertise, and patients' values. Extensive research has been conducted regarding physicians' awareness, attitudes, barriers, and knowledge about EBM. In Croatia, there is a lack of research on this topic, especially among family physicians (FP). The aim of this study was to assess the awareness, attitudes, barriers, and knowledge about EBM among FPs in Croatia after six years of educational activities organized and provided by Cochrane Croatia.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, conducted in 2016, we offered to FPs in Croatia a printed or online validated questionnaire to assess attitudes toward and barriers when considering the use of EBM, awareness about sources of evidence, and their level of understanding of evidence-based medicine terminology. The physicians were approached during mandatory continuing medical education courses and through their professional associations. We compared results from two groups of physicians, one with family medicine specialization and the other without.

Results: 295 (14%) of all officially registered FPs responded to the questionnaire. Respondents were very positive toward the promotion and usage of EBM. 160 (67%) indicated that they did not have access to the Cochrane Library. The majority reported lack of time available for finding evidence (80%), and patients' unrealistic expectations that influence doctors' choice of treatment (72%). Between the two groups of physicians, more family medicine specialists reported time restrictions for finding evidence. The highest level of EBM terminology understanding was reported for study design terms, and the lowest for statistical terms.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that FPs in Croatia had very positive attitudes toward the use of EBM, they agreed that EBM improves patient care, and they estimated that more than two thirds of their practice is EBM-based. Compared to the results of the first assessment of physicians in 2010, there was some increase in the level of EBM awareness among FPs. However, to further increase the quality of EBM practice in Croatia better access to EBM sources and further educational activities are needed.

Keywords: Awareness; Education; Evidence-based medicine; Family physicians; Quality of health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods
  • Croatia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Continuing* / organization & administration
  • Education, Medical, Continuing* / standards
  • Educational Measurement
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / education
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / standards
  • Family Practice* / education
  • Family Practice* / methods
  • Family Practice* / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires