In this guest post, David Carroll, a medical student at Queen’s University Belfast introduces us to a new, online network for students interested in evidence-based healthcare.
About two years ago, I had what I like to call my evidence-based epiphany. I became passionate about the use of the best evidence in healthcare. Evidence-based healthcare (EBH) is the “conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients”. This is in contrast to eminence-based healthcare, or relying on the opinion of a medical specialist or other prominent health official when it comes to health matters, rather than a careful assessment of relevant research evidence. Although this era of evidence-based decision-making has only been around since 1992, implementation of EBM in the managed care setting provides standards that have the potential to provide the best medical care at the lowest cost. EBH is arguably the crown jewel of 20th century science.
As my interest grew, I had the opportunity earlier this year to get involved in a new, exciting, international, online community for students that have an interest in EBH: Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE). Not only have I got involved but also I’m currently working for S4BE as the temporary editor of the network.
The UK Cochrane Centre started S4BE with their belief that students in all healthcare disciplines are the practitioners of tomorrow and, potentially, the Cochrane contributors of tomorrow. The idea was to promote the understanding of healthcare research amongst students in all health-related fields and amongst any students in any discipline with an interest in health care. This community is aimed at students from school to university age from any part of the world. It brings together relevant, useful resources about all aspects of EBH into a searchable, useable platform in which anyone can engage. S4BE harnesses the power of social media to bring like-minded people together on a global basis. In the short time the network has been online we’ve had over 100 posts from contributors in the United Kingdom, Syria, Australia, Mexico and beyond.
S4BE is divided up into two main areas, education and blogging. The education component includes both articles generated by S4BE contributors and signposts to outside content. Students can, for example, find out how to practice EBH and how to critically appraise a paper. The site signposts existing resources, as well as including new ones.
S4BE brings together the best educational resources from across the Internet. Most of the site is made up of student reviews of online learning resources. These reviews provide the reader with a description of the content of each resource, what they think of the resource and what type of person the resource is best for. Students have also produced their own articles explaining different areas of EBH. These have ranged from examples explaining how to understand and use odds ratios to articles describing how to use critical appraisal checklists. These articles have been written by students for students. They are easy to understand, interesting and clear to read.
In addition to the educational aspect, S4BE has student bloggers that write about EBH. These look at recent news in the health world or summarise new research. They also comment upon problems and controversies in the health world, trying to find solutions
along the way. These blogs are a really useful way to talk about EBH with the global student community.
S4BE is important as it provides a space for students to interact with each other and discuss all aspects of EBH. By providing a new platform for EBH, the healthcare professionals of tomorrow can develop their skills in practicing EBH, not only helping them but also helping others. Taking part in this evidence-based community is important so we can learn from all over the world to spread good practice and teaching of EBH.
Next month, S4BE will be presented at the 21st Cochrane Colloquium in Quebec and you can read the abstract here. Anyone attending the conference is encouraged to attend.
By joining S4BE, you’ll be helping to promote the use of the best evidence in healthcare and using your knowledge to help improve the network. If you want to, you can even start writing for S4BE! Using S4BE will allow us all to work together in the same place and learn from each other. Using the best evidence in health care leads to the best outcomes for the people we care about, our patients.
If you want to get involved you can contact Holly at the UK Cochrane Centre at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Students 4 Best Evidence
Temporary Editor of Students 4 Best Evidence
David spends too much time doing stuff but manages to find time to fit in medical school in his spare time. He’s on Twitter too @davidecarroll