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Computer-based teaching is as good as face to face lecture-based teaching of evidence based medicine: a randomised controlled trial

James Davis1*, Evi Chryssafidou2, Javier Zamora3, David Davies2, Khalid Khan2 and Arri Coomarasamy1

Author Affiliations

1 The Education Resource Centre, The Birmingham Women's Hospital NHS Trust, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TG, UK

2 The Medical Education Unit, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

3 Clinical Biostatistics Unit, Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Ctra. Colmenar km 9.100, 2803 Madrid, Spain

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BMC Medical Education 2007, 7:23  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-23

Published: 20 July 2007



At postgraduate level evidence based medicine (EBM) is currently taught through tutor based lectures. Computer based sessions fit around doctors' workloads, and standardise the quality of educational provision. There have been no randomized controlled trials comparing computer based sessions with traditional lectures at postgraduate level within medicine.


This was a randomised controlled trial involving six postgraduate education centres in the West Midlands, U.K. Fifty five newly qualified foundation year one doctors (U.S internship equivalent) were randomised to either computer based sessions or an equivalent lecture in EBM and systematic reviews. The change from pre to post-intervention score was measured using a validated questionnaire assessing knowledge (primary outcome) and attitudes (secondary outcome).


Both groups were similar at baseline. Participants' improvement in knowledge in the computer based group was equivalent to the lecture based group (gain in score: 2.1 [S.D = 2.0] versus 1.9 [S.D = 2.4]; ANCOVA p = 0.078). Attitudinal gains were similar in both groups.


On the basis of our findings we feel computer based teaching and learning is as effective as typical lecture based teaching sessions for educating postgraduates in EBM and systematic reviews.