Learning In Practice

Do short courses in evidence based medicine improve knowledge and skills? Validation of Berlin questionnaire and before and after study of courses in evidence based medicine

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7376.1338 (Published 07 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1338
  1. L Fritsche, senior lecturera,
  2. T Greenhalgh, professorb,
  3. Y Falck-Ytter, researcherc,
  4. H-H Neumayer, professora,
  5. R Kunz, senior lecturer (rkunz{at}uhbs.ch)a
  1. aDepartment of Nephrology, Charite-Campus Mitte, 10117 Berlin, Germany
  2. bDepartment of Primary Health Care, University College London, London N19 3UA
  3. cGerman Cochrane Centre, Institute for Medical Biometry and Medical Informatics, University of Freiburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to: R Kunz
  • Accepted 18 October 2002


Objective: To develop and validate an instrument for measuring knowledge and skills in evidence based medicine and to investigate whether short courses in evidence based medicine lead to a meaningful increase in knowledge and skills.

Design: Development and validation of an assessment instrument and before and after study.

Setting: Various postgraduate short courses in evidence based medicine in Germany.

Participants: The instrument was validated with experts in evidence based medicine, postgraduate doctors, and medical students. The effect of courses was assessed by postgraduate doctors from medical and surgical backgrounds.

Intervention: Intensive 3 day courses in evidence based medicine delivered through tutor facilitated small groups.

Main outcome measure: Increase in knowledge and skills.

Results: The questionnaire distinguished reliably between groups with different expertise in evidence based medicine. Experts attained a threefold higher average score than students. Postgraduates who had not attended a course performed better than students but significantly worse than experts. Knowledge and skills in evidence based medicine increased after the course by 57% (mean score before course 6.3 (SD 2.9) v 9.9 (SD 2.8), P<0.001). No difference was found among experts or students in absence of an intervention.

Conclusions: The instrument reliably assessed knowledge and skills in evidence based medicine. An intensive 3 day course in evidence based medicine led to a significant increase in knowledge and skills.


  • Funding RK is supported by an academic career award for women from the senate of Berlin

  • Competing interests None declared.

    Full details of the instrument and a table showing completion of questionnaire appear on bmj.com

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