Intended for healthcare professionals


Evidence based medicine and the medical curriculum

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 24 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1253
  1. Paul Glasziou, professor of evidence based medicine1,
  2. Amanda Burls, director of postgraduate programmes in evidence based health care1,
  3. Ruth Gilbert, professor of clinical epidemiology2
  1. 1Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LF
  2. 2Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  1. paul.glasziou{at}

    The search engine is now as essential as the stethoscope

    What we know about diseases, diagnosis, and effective treatments is growing rapidly. Today health professionals cannot solely rely on what they were first taught if they want to do the best for their patients. It has repeatedly been shown that clinical performance deteriorates over time.1 A commitment to lifelong learning must be integral to ethical professional practice. However, the speed of the increase in knowledge—more than 2000 new research papers are added to Medline each day—represents a challenge.2 The skills needed to find potentially relevant studies quickly and reliably, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to apply sound research findings to patient care have today become as essential as skills with a stethoscope.

    The advent of “evidence based medicine” saw an explosion of systematic reviews and guidelines but much less change in the medical curriculum.3 4 Although evidence based guidelines may help clinicians in selected areas, they cannot cover the range of questions or have the timeliness …

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