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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


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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