The Goal of Best Evidence Medical Education
The overall goal of the collaboration is to establish and disseminate the latest findings from scientifically-grounded educational research, enabling teachers and administrators to make informed decisions about the kinds of evidence-based education initiatives that boost learner performance on cognitive and clinical measures.
Best Evidence Medical Education takes a new approach over legacy medical education, where decisions have been made based on pseudoscience, anecdotes, and flawed comparison groups rather than empirical evidence. This new approach argues that other fields do not rely on personal experiences to make policy choices, and have a much broader research base. The same needs to be true within Medical Education.
Best Evidence Medical Education Reviews and Publications
There is a wide range of Best Evidence Medical Education Guides available on a broad variety of topics. These guides are available in the AMEE Resource Centre (the ARC) for all AMEE members, and in the Medical Teacher journal.
Become an AMEE Member to access the resources in the ARC
View Best Evidence Medical Education Reviews and Articles in Medical Teacher
If you have a topic or idea that you think would make an excellent addition to Best Evidence Medical Education we would encourage you to get in touch. Contact us by email at [email protected] with any questions.
The reviews accepted and published relating to Best Evidence Medical Education fit within three review types:
Effectiveness Review– An effectiveness review adds to our knowledge about how to enhance (multiple) outcomes of an educational intervention and/or the effective processes of teaching and learning. Put another way, it contributes to practical or theoretical knowledge for improvement, or in a very rare case, for proof. It follows that secondary research here will be with data from reported studies that have, in some way, queried the impact of the educational intervention. These will not necessarily be studies that asked the question ‘did it work, yes or no’ and collected quantitative data in the process of doing so, but are more likely to be studies that sought to identify how it worked, for whom, in what circumstances, and, importantly, illuminated why it worked. It is also likely that mixed data, or qualitative data will be the raw material of the secondary analysis and synthesis.
Definitional Review– A definitional review seeking to draw on a wide range of literature to suggest a consensus definition for a concept in health professional education that is presently well discussed but does not have a commonly accepted understanding of the concept. This type of review is often necessary before an effectiveness review can be undertaken.
Scoping Review– A scoping review is aimed at finding out just what literature is out there, how much is written about the topic and where is it, who is writing about the topic and why. This is often a preliminary part of an effectiveness review and leads to refined search strategies etc
What to consider
The principal emphasis in the selection of a topic/question for review is a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with proposals coming from prospective reviewers. The review group works with the central administration to define the precise scope and nature of the topic/question being considered for review. It is essential to describe the topic/question as accurately as possible to ensure that the best evidence is retrieved and considered for the review.
Points to consider are:
Does the topic focus and inform?
A Best Evidence Medical Education review topic/question should focus on and inform on practical issues or problems faced by the teacher or institution in their day-to-day practice. For example, the research topic/question should be phrased in such a way as to provide information on how the teacher or institution should respond to the adoption of a new teaching approach in their own context.
Do questions illuminate the topic area?
Review questions may be most helpful where they illuminate the topic area. A valuable question will usually explore aspects of the review topic and will not necessarily be answered with a simple yes or no.
Is the topic precisely defined?
The review topic/question should be precisely defined and the terms used in the question should be defined as a question: “What is a high-fidelity simulator?” Typically, a review topic/question will identify:
Population/participants e.g. undergraduate or postgraduate students
The activity under investigation e.g. the timing of feedback in assessment
Outcomes e.g. change of attitudes or knowledge
Conduct a scoping search
We recommend review groups conduct a scoping search as part of their work for the review protocol. These broad, simplified searches are conducted to determine the size of the body of literature relevant to the topic as initially defined. The scoping search is not comprehensive, nor does it consult all sources.
Refine or broaden
Following the scoping search, it may be advisable either to broaden or narrow the scope of the proposed review topic/question in order to ensure it is manageable whilst at the same time generating sufficient studies for the review. Several iterations may be necessary before the final topic/question is defined.
Forming your Review Group
When forming your group we strongly recommend that the following points are taken into account:
The review group should have knowledge of the specific area being reviewed, knowledge of medical education, knowledge of research methods, and knowledge of the process of conducting reviews.
It is helpful if the review group has access to information technology skills, clerical/database handling skills, and a research librarian.
In general it is recommended, although not essential, that the review group has international composition. The recommended number of review group members will depend on the size of the review, the location of proposed group members, and the resources available; 6-12 members is an optimum number.
Tips for your review
Read through this article in Medical Teacher which highlights twelve tips for undertaking your systematic review for more information and points to consider.
Twelve tips on undertaking a focused systematic review in medical education