Intended for healthcare professionals


Evidence based case reports

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1386

Undergraduates in Cork have to submit them during their course

  1. Ivan J Perry, Professor of public health. (
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College, Cork.
  2. Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority, London SE1 7NT
  3. Department of Gerontology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, 00168 Rome, Italy
  4. University of Queensland Medical School, Queensland 4006, Australia

    EDITOR—Over the past two academic years colleagues and I have used the concept of an evidence based case report, similar to that presented by Glasziou,1 in teaching evidence based medicine in the penultimate year of our undergraduate course in epidemiology and public health.

    Students are asked to submit a case report based on the management of a single patient encountered during their clinical work. They are advised to identify one key intervention in the management of the case and to summarise any evidence that supports this intervention. The submission should not exceed 1000 words, of which not more than 300 should describe the clinical details of the case. Students are advised to use no more than five references and to take care to select key papers; they must describe the Medline search strategy that they used.

    The case report contributes towards the students' mark in epidemiology and public health at the end of the year. The exercise is designed to help the students relate the theory of evidence based medicine to the reality of everyday clinical practice. Marking the case reports provides good feedback on the effectiveness of our teaching in evidence based medicine. A high proportion of students display evidence of critical reading of the key references. Students tend, however, to focus on the evidence for pharmacological interventions rather than on other forms of treatment or diagnostic strategies. They are reluctant to reflect critically on the management of the case and have difficulty with formulating good questions for evidence based medicine. These observations have prompted a review of methods and …

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