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General medicine
Students 4 Best Evidence as a digital Problem-Based Learning method to improve Evidence-Based Practice competencies in undergraduate physiotherapy students: an observational study
  1. Chiara Arienti1,
  2. Stefano Giuseppe Lazzarini1,
  3. Joel Pollet1,
  4. Stefano Negrini2,3
  1. 1 IRCCS Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, Milan, Italy
  2. 2 Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Sciences, University of Milan "La Statale", Milan, Italy
  3. 3 IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chiara Arienti, IRCCS Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, Milan 20148, Italy; carienti{at}


Background Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an essential element in the delivery of high-quality care and healthcare professionals make clinical decisions based on the best available research. Experts and international organisations have emphasised the need for healthcare professionals to possess adequate competencies for EBP. An EBP learning laboratory has been established at an Italian university to educate medical and other health professional students in the use of evidence in clinical practice and research. Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) is an online community of students from around the world, from school age to university, who are interested in learning more about EBP. As well as featuring a library of learning resources, the site also provides a platform for students to write their own blogs.

Objectives The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an EBP laboratory, using S4BE as an educational tool, to teach EBP competencies to undergraduate physiotherapy students.

Design We ran an observational pretest and post-test study.

Participants and setting The sample included 121 students completing a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy at an Italian University.

Intervention The intervention consisted of using the S4BE platform as the digital Problem-Based Learning (DPBL) method to teach EBP competencies.

Results The students showed a significant improvement in all domains (p<0.001), except in the sympathy domain, where the percentage score decreased from 71% to 60%. The best improvements were reached in terminology (54% to 65%) and in practice (41% to 55%) domains.

Conclusion This study proposed an effective educational protocol, based on a DPBL approach, using S4BE as a digital technology tool. Further research is needed to test the effectiveness of this educational protocol compared with traditional learning methods for physiotherapy students.

Trial registration number NCT03707119.

  • evidence-based practice

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data are available on request to the corresponding author, CA.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data are available on request to the corresponding author, CA.

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  • Contributors CA: study conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of manuscript; SGL: acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of manuscript; JP: acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data; SN: study conception and design, critical revision. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. All authors approved the submitted version of this article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.