Thirty years of teaching evidence-based medicine: have we been getting it all wrong?
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Evidence based medicine (EBM) has been synonymous to delivery of quality care for almost thirty years. Since the movement's inception, the assumption has been that decisions based on high quality evidence would translate to better care for patients. Despite EBM's many attractive features and the substantive attention it has received in the contemporary clinical and medical education literature, how it is defined and operationalized as a component of training is often unclear and problematic. How to practice EBM is not well articulated in the literature; therefore, it becomes difficult to teach and equally challenging to assess. In this paper, we put forward a call for deeper consideration of how EBM is taught, and for clarification on how it is defined and operationalized in medical education. In preparing this paper, we considered questions such as what it means to practice EBM, the role that medical education plays in helping realize EBM, how the teaching of EBM can change to reflect recent developments in clinical practice and education, and whether transformations in the practice of medicine necessitate a change in how we teach EBM. We end with four avenues that may be pursued to advance the teaching of EBM in medical education: (1) consensus on what we mean by EBM; (2) clear articulation of EBM-associated competencies; (3) empirically and theoretically supported means of promoting EBM competencies; (4) ways to assess both skill acquisition and use of EBM. We discuss implications for educators of EBM.
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