International Journal of Health System and Disaster Management

: 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 38--42

A study of resident's attitude, knowledge and barriers towards the use of evidence based medicine

Peyman Rezaei Hachesu1, Vahideh Zarea Gavgani2, Zahra Salahzadeh3, Asghar Ehteshami4, Zakieh Piri5, Mahtab Kasaei6, Esmaeil Rezazadeh7,  
1 Department of Health Information Technology (HIT), Faculty of Para-Medicine, Tabriz, Iran
2 Department of Medical Library and Information Science (DMLIS), Faculty of Para-Medicine, Tabriz; Iranian center for Evidence Based Medicine(ICEBM), Isfahan, Iran
3 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Rehabilitation, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
4 Health Management and Ecinimics Research Center, Isfahan; Department of Health Information Technology (HIT), School of Health management and information Sciences, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran
5 , Iran
6 Department of Health Information Technology (HIT), School of Health management and information Sciences, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran
7 Chancellor for Treatment Affaires, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran

Correspondence Address:
Esmaeil Rezazadeh
Medical Records Education, Chancellor for Treatment Affaires, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari


Objectives: To survey the attitudes, awareness, and practice of evidence based medicine (EBM), and to determine the barriers that influence application of EBM in therapeutic process among clinical residents in Iran. Materials and Methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted during September to December 2012 at the teaching hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences among 79 clinical residents from different medical specialties. A valid and reliable questionnaire consisted of five sections and 27 statements were used in this research. Most respondents (90%) completed the questionnaires voluntarily and anonymously. We inserted the data into Microsoft Excel 2007. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 16.0 software. We applied Spearman and Mann-Whitney test for correlation between variables. Results: Knowledge of residents about EBM is low and their attitude towards EBM was positive, but their knowledge and skills in regard with the evidence based medical information resources were mostly limited to Google Scholar. Lack of enough time to practice EBM and unperfect access to data bases were the main barriers. There was no significant correlation between residency grade and familiarity and use of electronic EBM resources (Spearman, P = 0.138). Conclusions: It is essential to improve their knowledge, skills, and capabilities to practice EBM. They can conduct EBM that should reduce medical errors and faulty diagnoses. Integration of training approaches like journal clubs or workshops with clinical practice is suggested.

How to cite this article:
Hachesu PR, Gavgani VZ, Salahzadeh Z, Ehteshami A, Piri Z, Kasaei M, Rezazadeh E. A study of resident's attitude, knowledge and barriers towards the use of evidence based medicine.Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage 2013;1:38-42

How to cite this URL:
Hachesu PR, Gavgani VZ, Salahzadeh Z, Ehteshami A, Piri Z, Kasaei M, Rezazadeh E. A study of resident's attitude, knowledge and barriers towards the use of evidence based medicine. Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Apr 19 ];1:38-42
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One of the most critical steps in medical practice is a medical diagnosis. When a physician takes some level of data from different sources (such as the patient's history, his\her own background knowledge, literature search, and tests) and convert these data into the information the medical diagnosis takes place. Therefore, without information the full benefit of clinical decisions and treatment of clinical case is unlikely to be realized. A medical therapeutic process conducted through data collection (observation), diagnostics, and therapy; [1] it starts with the patient history and proceeds with diagnostic procedures which are selected based on available information. Thus, an important question that must be answered is that, how it can be determined which data are relevant? In traditional medicine, the decision-making approach was relied more on physician's background knowledge, clinical experiences, consultation with seniors, and textbooks rather than reading current literature. However, now decision-making process in medical practice focus on evidence based practice and convergence of both individual clinical expertise and best available evidence. An evidence based approach (EBA), gathering, analyzing, and applying up-to-date evidence from the reliable literature and researches integrated into medical practice and patient's care. Evidence based medicine (EBM) which was defined by Sakett as "the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care", [2] is a tool for proper and efficient use of the results of research works in decision making. The most essential components of EBA are to access, assess, and apply the evidence. To access the best available evidence it is essential to know how and where to search and retrieve the best evidence, which databases are rich and reliable, and how to conduct a systematic and purposeful search strategy? The lack of knowledge about the best available evidence is one of the main causes of applying various and controversial medical treatments. [3] EBM is conducted through guidelines, which include general description based on available evidence and experts' experiences. [4] Evidence based guidelines can be found from numerous sources, and the overall goal is to aggregate the best data and use the conclusions to help come to a clinical decision. In past years, attempts have focused on the use of computer guidelines to support the clinical care and resource management based on the updated medical information. [5],[6],[7],[8],[9] EMB provides a common framework for problem solving, improving process, communication, and understanding between people from different backgrounds, such as clinicians and patients. [10] The evidence based clinical guidelines can provide access to information at the point of care. [11],[12],[13]

Todays therapeutic procedures are not acceptable only based on specialists' information. [14] There is a large gap between the information published in evidence based clinical guidelines and the knowledge required to perform diagnostic and therapeutic process. An efficient way to fill this gap is to adhere medical informatics research. [15],[16] It is obvious that the physicians who have established their actions based on scientific evidence, could make better decisions. [17]

Therefore, it was essential to identify if the clinicians' medical practice and clinical decision-making are evidence based. What is the attitude of clinicians towards EBM? Moreover, do they have acquired proper knowledge about EBM practice? Are there any barriers for practice of EBM with physicians?

This study investigate the attitude and knowledge of clinical residents towards EBM and the barriers that they face in practice of EBM.

 Materials and Methods

A cross sectional survey was conducted during September to December 2012 at the teaching hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

A total number of 79 clinical residents and postgraduate students of physiotherapy (MS and PhD students) which were attending clinical practice learning in the teaching hospital settings participated in this study. Participation in this study depended on the residents' willingness. The informed consent was taken from participants to ensure the confidentiality of collecting data.


The questionnaire comprised of five sections and 27 statements. Section 1: Questions included demographics feature. Section 2: Covering attitudes and familiarity towards EBM. Section 3: Items about the EBM practice. Section 4: One item used on the most databases/resources applied and two open questions gave participants the opportunity to state their views of the major barriers and encouraging mechanisms. Section 5: Respondents that have applied EBM in clinical actions were asked to answer the other parts related to opinions and viewpoints and about the implication of EBM in the therapeutic tasks. In order to reduce the number of unanswered questionnaires, the authors personally distributed all the questionnaires. We categorized questions on a 1-4 or 1-3 scale based on Likert scale. Some questions were derived from valid and reliable questionnaire. [3],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24]


Spearman and Mann Whitney test was used to analyze the statistical differences for correlation between variables. The statistic is performed utilizing a two-tailed test and significance level of 0.05. Answers were reviewed and categorized with Microsoft Office Excel and the data collected were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software version 16.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).


The questionnaire was distributed to 87 residents, and the total number of respondents was 79 (response rate was 90%). Of the respondents, 28% were PhD students of physical therapy.

Demographics data of the respondents and their level of grades and specialties are given in [Table 1].{Table 1}

Knowledge and awareness of evidence based medicine

To determine the familiarity with EBM, we asked respondents to answer the three point scale questions that are presented in [Table 2].{Table 2}

Out of total 79 respondents, the major number 32 (40%) that is less than half of the total respondents stated that they have moderate familiarity with EBM. Our findings showed that the knowledge about all parts of EBM was low in the respondents (39%), 18% of respondents had formal research experience, and 44% had prior EBM training in workshops or other places.

Findings analysis showed that 53%, of those residents who had a good familiarity with EBM approach could apply EBM in their therapeutic tasks.

Resources to locate evidence

The PubMed and Google Scholar were the most used sources of information for clinical decision making as shown in [Figure 1]. Pediatrics residents referred to EBM sites such as which was up to date the most popular source used by internal residents.{Figure 1}

Attitude towards evidence based medicine

Respondents about their attitudes toward EBM were asked. Of 79 respondents, we exclude the 21 (27%) with a poor rating familiarity asserted in [Table 2]. We considered that residents knowledge is low about a specific EBM process in clinical decisions, but there was an overall positive attitude towards EBM. More resident and physical therapists believed that EBM should be used in diagnosis and treatment affairs because of its importance to reduce medical errors; increase the diagnostic accuracy, and to update medical information. However, in the case of time access to evidence and the time taken to search and find accurate and appropriate information, they have relatively negative attitudes [Table 3].{Table 3}

Barriers to evidence based medicine

[Figure 2] shows the reasons that residents perceived to be barriers involved in EBM. The main barrier was the lack of enough time to practicing EBM and unperfect access to data bases. Lack of the time to practice EBM and the belief that EBM is not useful was the most and least important factors respectively. Lack of suitable and complete guidelines on diagnosis or treatment led to decrease of electronic resources on behalf of practitioners.{Figure 2}

We found that there was no significant correlation between residency grade and familiarity and use of electronic EBM resources (Spearman, P = 0.138). Same finding was found in others study. [23] This study also revealed that familiarity and use of electronic EBM resources did not differ between male and female residents (Mann-Whitney, P = 0.317).

Evidence based medicine application: Lessons learned

As are given in [Table 3], of the 58 completed questionnaires with positive response, most respondents (89%) agreed that EBM could improve and update decision-making. Comments on open questions showed that respondents (58%) would prefer to get answers through professors and colleagues' consultation rather than EBM sites during diagnosis or treatment process. According to participants' statement, accuracy in decision making, reduce of medical errors, and finding new drugs or diagnostic and therapeutic methods were the most important reasons to use EBM. Besides, encouragement mechanisms have not been adopted through healthcare or hospitals policy makers.


The attitudes, awareness, and barriers to EBM among clinical residents were surveyed. The finding of this study was consistent with other studies related to attitudes of physicians towards evidence-based medicine; for example, Amini found that 56% of the physician respondents described the attitude towards EBM in their institution as positive. [25] It was shown that residents are interested in increasing their skills and the amount of evidence used in their practices.

Catherine revealed that all professional groups welcomed and supported evidence based practice. [26] Mittal and Perakath stated that the attitudes of surgical trainees toward EBM were desired. [21] Mayer and Piterman showed that general practitioners (GPs) welcomed EBM and found that it could support their information needs. [27] Although the positive attitude towards EBM forms the cornerstone for its acceptance, it does not ensure EBM adoption and its widespread usage. Despite these positive findings, fewer residents actually reported practicing EBM. Barghouti et al., stated that Jordanian family physicians welcomed to learn and implement EBM in their daily practice, but there is knowledge gap and lack of awareness. [28] Similarly, Abeysena et al., revealed that knowledge and practices of EBM among Sri Lanka doctors were poor. However, attitudes toward EBM were relatively good. [20] This knowledge gap requires more guidance and training to ensure successful implementation and application of EBM. [28],[29] Another study found that students' knowledge, confidence in knowledge, familiarity with, and confidence in the use of EBP skills increased following education. Prior to the training session students earned a mean knowledge score of 50% which raised to 66%. [30]

Lack of time was one of the major barriers to EBM learning in our study. Other studies [19],[20],[21],[25],[31],[32] confirm this finding. Risahmawati et al., presented a lack of time to access EBM sources, a lack of sources in the native language, and insufficient skills as the main barriers to EBM adoption. [23]

Other commonly reported barriers to EBM included insufficient access to information and negative patients or associate's attitude towards EBM. Despite the increasing emphasis on the importance of EBM in clinical decision-making, some respondents would consider insignificant use of it. Some respondents (41%) believed that current clinical guidelines lack sufficient support for the practice of EBM and they do not apply in clinical decision-making.

We believed learning the use of information technology, methods of search and evaluation of evidence for the diagnosis, treatment, and medical education is necessary. Computerization of medical guidelines in comparison with traditional methods potential analysis led to advances in physician's decision-making. [33] Several official websites such as for sharing medical knowledge among physicians has been created, many of these sites can create text with HTML and text format and useful links which is very useful and valuable. [34]

Our findings concerning knowledge of practicing EBM are conforming to results of a similar study by Ahmadi-Abhari et al., [35] They argued that the majority of trainee physicians at Tehran University hospitals lack adequate knowledge about basic concepts of EBM. Furthermore, most of them keep employing traditional sources of knowledge rather than evidence based sources.

All of residents had access to Medline and word web wide (www) in workplace, but their use is not desirable. In accordance with Moghadami and Amini, [29] few respondents thought that they were competent or skilled to critically evaluate clinical literatures. This is because of that comprehensive practical trainings are not given. Kouhpayehzadeh showed that an EBM workshop may improve clinical teachers' abilities and skills in using EBM. [36]

Although residents were familiar with common databases used in EBM, some database related to EBM such as Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were used poorly. In our study, similar to Risahmawati et al., [23] the most understood EBM resources were PubMed and Google Scholar. Few of them used the Cochrane Library. Similarly, only 8.6% of doctors in Sri Lanka [20] were aware of the use of Cochrane Library and in Iran it was the least used source. [35] Despite ease of access to electronic resources, residents' physicians do not use these sources appropriately. Findings show that respondents use both EBM and non-EBM methods such as referring to textbook and colleagues to find the answers during daily clinical problem solving. It is a necessary to increase knowledge among residents about these available resources and appropriate use.

The respondents in our study were not sure that EBM could take into account patient's personal preferences and improving of clinical process' accuracy. This finding is similar to other studies. [31],[37] It shoud be noted that EBM was seen as a necessary and important method, and research findings were useful in clinical practice and decision-making. Similar results have previously presented these results. [19],[31]


This study advises that EBM and literature search skills should be inserted into the medical curriculum. Integration of teaching EBM process and skills in clinical practice with classroom or workshop lessons are an applicable solution. According to studies agreed that students who had completed the course about evidence based medicine concepts had better skills in applying evidence-based medicine to patient care than other students. [38] Physicians and other healthcare professionals can conduct EBM that should reduce medical errors and faulty diagnoses.


The questionnaire relied on the participants' self-rated assessment of their own knowledge and beliefs. Another limitation is that we conducted this research among a small portion of residents with few specialties. Hence, this study cannot be representative of all specialties and hospitals. Lack of sources in the native language (Persian) is a barrier to EBM application.


The authors would like to thank the clinical residents and physiotherapists of the TUMS for their help and commitment during the completion of this research.


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