Translating knowledge into action with Evidence Based Healthcare for improved clinical care and research at the University of Zimbabwe, College of Health Sciences, UZCHS

This is an extract of a blog entry on ‘Chat Literacy’  by Masimba Muziringa

Promotion of EBM at UZCHS:

The UZCHS Library contributes immensely to evidence based healthcare through the provision of tailor made training for clinical students, healthcare professionals and researchers on the use and application of best evidence to inform clinical care. The Library assists in the formulation of patient-centred questions and in the retrieval of the best evidence from the available resources such as the UpToDate clinical database.

UpToDate, http://www.uptodate.com is the premier evidence-based clinical decision support resource authored by physicians to help healthcare practitioners make the best decisions at the point of care. By combining the latest clinical knowledge with cutting-edge technology, use of UpToDate changes the way clinicians practice medicine and has become an indispensable part of clinical workflows in Zimbabwe where access to the resource is provided for at three central hospitals in Harare.

Structure of EBM Training at UZCHS:

Evidence Based Medicine is a process of life-long, problem-based learning.  The evidence, by itself, does not make a decision, but it can help one to support the patient care process, (Ciliska et al., 2001). Research literature is constantly changing and the volume of health information has increased rapidly. The growth of health care information has been particularly rapid in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, (Pyne et al., 2008). However, the development of computer-based bibliographies has made it easier for busy clinicians to make use of published literature, simply and relatively cheaply. The full integration of EBM into clinical decisions enhances the opportunity for optimal clinical outcomes and quality of life. The UZCHS Library enhances this process through training that addresses the following core skills:

  • Converting information needs into focused clinical questions using the PICO tool.
  • Efficiently tracking down the best evidence with which to answer the question from various databases in HINARI, PubMed and UpToDate clinical database.
  • Critically appraising the evidence for its validity and clinical usefulness within the developing country perspective.
  • Applying the results in clinical practice.
  • Evaluating performance of the evidence in clinical application.

Impact of EBM Training:

It is important to note that EBM training and subsequent access to the resources such as UpToDate that compliment the whole process, has also helped to address the core health priority needs of Zimbabwe in a sustainable way.  EBM marks a shift from basing clinical decisions on out-of-date teaching or on clinician experience with individual patients alone, to considering, as part of the clinical decision, the results and most recent knowledge from rigorous clinical studies.

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