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Understanding evidence-based healthcare: a foundation for action

Posted on 19th March 2014 by

Learning Resources
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Bottom line:  

What Evidence-Based Healthcare (EBH) and why is it important?

What is the problem?

There is so much confusion about what works and what doesn’t in healthcare. The news headlines are simply befuddling! One minute something is bad for you, the next it’s not only good for you, but it is the hidden cure for cancer that doctors don’t want you to know about.  We are bombarded by savvy advertisements for this or that drug, and of course, everyone has a health book to sell you that “will save your life”.  Since most of us are not medical doctors, nor do we have PHDs and work in a fancy labs, we are grossly unprepared to understand how reliable a “health” book, news article, or that drug ad is when they say “that a recent study proves that…”. The solution is learning how to evaluate the evidence and ask the right questions.

But how!?

Well, we are in luck! Kay Dickersin, MA, PhD, of the US Cochrane Center and consumer advocate, Musa Mayer, MS, MFA, have put together a free web-based learning course to help everyday consumers of health care information understand how evidence is used in healthcare.

Who is this for?

This course is easy to follow and understand. It’s designed for the health lay-person or patient advocate, who usually doesn’t have any formal healthcare training; however, it also contains very valuable lessons for anyone in a healthcare profession If you have gone into a healthcare profession, hopefully you have taken an evidence-based practice course at university that would provide the foundation of evidence-based practice. However, those courses just cover the basics. They may not get into just how complicated the role of political activists, the pharmaceutical industry, and poor reproducibility can be, and how these factors have led to some painful “lessons learned” from not evaluating the evidence properly. Since we are all healthcare consumers, we all need to get smart about these lessons so we can raise the bar of healthcare evidence.  The first step is to educate ourselves.  This course is for all of us!

What is it about?

Its goals are to help healthcare consumers:

  • Successfully navigate the world of medical information,
  • Critically appraise research studies,
  • Influence the creation of responsible public policy in healthcare, and
  • Help the people they serve to make healthcare choices based on the best available evidence.

The course is broken down into 6 video narrated modules that include…

  1. Introduction. What Is Evidence-Based Healthcare, and Why Is it Important?
  2. The Importance of Research Questions in Evidence-Based Healthcare
  3. Research Design, Bias and Levels of Evidence
  4. ACQUIRE. Searching for Healthcare Information; Assessing Harms and Benefits
  5. APPRAISE. Behind the Numbers: Understanding Healthcare Statistics; Science, Speed and the Search for Best Evidence
  6. APPLY. Critical Appraisal: Making Better Decisions for Evidence-Based Healthcare

Tell me more:

Registration is a breeze; the course itself took me a few days to complete, simply because I took a lot of breaks. Still, overall, it was captivating and I would highly recommend it.

Have you taken the course? What did you think?


You can access the course here http://us.cochrane.org/understanding-evidence-based-healthcare-foundation-action  


Danny Minkow

Danny Minkow has a History degree from the University of Florida. He then served with the US Air Force for 7 years and is an Iraq War veteran. He is currently pursuing a Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy at Brenau University near Atlanta, Georgia. Danny has great interest in The Cochrane Collaboration and how medical evidence is used and communicated. Particularly the differences between how the UK and US view and apply the best available evidence. He is currently working on a group thesis for stroke rehabilitation. View more posts from Danny

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