Development and piloting of a blended learning training programme for physicians and medical students to enhance their competences in evidence-based decision-making

Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes. 2020 Apr:150-152:104-111. doi: 10.1016/j.zefq.2020.02.004. Epub 2020 May 19.


Introduction: In 2016, the German Network for Evidence-based Medicine revised its basic curriculum for competences in evidence-based medicine. A curriculum-based training programme for physicians and medical students to enhance their competences in evidence-based decision-making was developed. The training programme was planned on the basis of problem-based learning. The aim of this qualitative pilot study was to explore the feasibility and acceptability of the training programme. Hypotheses concerning its influence on critical health literacy and the attitude toward evidence-based decision-making were to be generated.

Methods: Participating healthcare professionals received a structured training in a blended learning format. Data collection was conducted during the training sessions. The lessons were observed and protocolled and the working results were documented. Two focus group interviews were conducted after the training blocks with focus on acceptability and feasibility of the training programme. Interview transcripts and protocols were analysed using qualitative content analysis according to Mayring. Data saturation was intended by an iterative process of testing, analysing and revising the training programme. In addition, critical health literacy was assessed using the validated Critical Health Competence test. Levels of competence were calculated to measure the effect of the training on critical health competences.

Results: Two pilot courses with 29 physicians and other healthcare professionals were conducted between January and March 2019. Overall, the training programme proved to be feasible. The participants rated the comprehensibility of the learning modules as high. However, the practical exercises (e.g. role plays in shared decision-making) revealed that relevant subjects were insufficiently understood (e.g. the difference between the benefits and harms of a diagnostic test and its test accuracy). The interactive instructional design was appreciated. The participants appraised the work tasks as comprehensible but also challenging and requested a theoretical introduction to statistical terms in preparation for work tasks. The programme was revised iteratively according to the results. Critical health competences increased significantly after the training. Mean values (±SD) of levels of competence were 571.21 (±82.87) before training and 671.90 (±51.38) after training (p<0.0001) (levels of competence with a range from 0 to 1,000).

Conclusion: The training programme is feasible and was well accepted by the participants. It should be established as a continuing medical education opportunity for practitioners. Evaluation in a randomised controlled trial is recommended. Furthermore, the training can easily be adapted for interprofessional training. A concept for long-term implementation is needed.

Keywords: Critical health competence; Critical health literacy; Evidence-based decision-making; Evidence-based medicine; Evidence-based practice; Evidenzbasierte Entscheidungsfindung; Evidenzbasierte Medizin; Evidenzbasierte Praxis; Kritische Gesundheitskompetenz; Schulung; training.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Pilot Projects
  • Students, Medical*