Evidence-based medicine teaching requirements in the USA: taxonomy and themes

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In the USA, recent changes to oversight of residency training codify the requirements for teaching evidence-based medicine and information mastery (lifelong learning) knowledge, skills, and attitudes.


The goal of this project is to determine current requirements for teaching of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and information mastery (IM) in specialty residency education in the USA.


The project was a qualitative thematic analysis using content analysis. The source of the requirements for EBM and IM were the “milestone” statements for all 28 major specialties and transition year programs. Milestone descriptors related to EBM/IM were extracted and codes were developed and applied to each descriptor by four researchers. The resulting codes were coalesced into themes and tested against the milestone descriptors.


The coding process identified 15 content areas comprising five themes. Two themes related to the knowledge and skills of EBM and three themes related to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of IM. EBM themes encompassed basic critical appraisal skills and knowledge of clinical epidemiology principles and statistics. IM themes centered on identifying one's information needs for patient-specific information, using information sources, and using current awareness services to remain abreast of changes in medicine. In general, they align well with the Sicily Statement on Evidence-Based Practice. No specialty required competence in all areas.


New training requirements for specialties in the USA require the development of both classic EBM skills as well as skills for managing information. However, there is marked variation in the requirements among specific specialties.

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