Online supplementation for teaching evidence-based medicine: feasibility of a randomised-controlled trial.
McCall MC., Fanshawe TR., McCartney D., Young D., Nunan D., Heneghan C.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: As teaching technology advances, medical education is increasingly using digital mediums and exploring instructional models such as the flipped classroom and blended learning courses, where the in-class taught sessions are more groups on content delivered before class. Early evidence suggests lectures and foundational material can be equally provided online, but we have low-quality research to be convinced. We aim to test and develop an online evidence-based teaching resource that seeks to improve the availability and scalability of evidence-based medicine (EBM) learning tools. We evaluate the feasibility of a study design that could test for changes in academic performance in EBM skills using an online supplement. METHODS: Mixed-methods feasibility study of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in an undergraduate medical student cohort. RESULTS: Of a small cohort (n=34), eight participants agreed to randomisation and completed the study. No study participant completed the EBM supplementary course in full. Students report time-management as a significant barrier in participation, and all aspects of the study and communications should be delivered with efficiency a key consideration. CONCLUSION: Randomising students to an online EBM supplement within a medical school programme presents challenges of recruitment and student motivation, but the study design is potentially feasible.