Improving searching skills and evidence retrieval

J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1998 Nov-Dec;32(6):557-63.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of a three-hour training session in formulating questions and searching databases.

Design: A randomised controlled trial and before and after study, with blinded outcome assessment.

Setting: Oxford University Medical School, first clinical year.

Subjects: Altogether 108 medical students were randomly assigned to an experimental group (54) or a control group (54), and all were given the task of searching for evidence around an ulcer related problem or a cardiac problem. Students in the experimental group were randomly allocated to research one of the two problems before training and the remaining problem afterwards. Control students received no training and were randomly allocated to search for evidence around either of these problems.

Main outcome measures: Searching performance; the quality of evidence retrieved; student satisfaction.

Results: Training improved the students' search performance and the quality of evidence retrieved. Students' satisfaction with the training was high.

Conclusions: A three-hour interactive training session improved the students' ability to search databases and retrieve evidence and was well received by the students.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics / education*
  • Research / education*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Ulcer / therapy
  • United Kingdom