A half day interactive workshop in systematic review and the Cochrane Collaboration: a University of Toronto site group initiative

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Wong R

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of a workshop module, designed to improve the knowledge on systematic reviews and the Cochrane Collaboration.

Methods: The educational intervention consisted of a single half-day workshop. The overall structure of the workshop was standardized to include 1. Short presentations designed to provide an introduction of the key concept of systematic review and the role of the Cochrane Collaboration. 2. Dedicated time and computer terminals to provide hands on experience with the Cochrane Library. 3.The specific contents were tailored for each group using examples from clinical areas relevant to the discipline.

The workshops were evaluated using the same assessment tool designed to evaluate four broad domains: fulfillment of objectives, structure of the workshop, computer functionality, and an overall evaluation. Responses were scored based on a 5-point scale (5 totally agree and 1 totally disagree).

Results: Between Oct 2002 and Oct 2003, 3 postgraduate workshops and 1 national CME workshop were conducted for internal medicine, family medicine and radiation oncology training programs, and the discipline of radiation oncology respectively. 89 participants attended the workshops. 62 (69%) completed the evaluation forms. The mean scores were The workshop has a set of clearly defined objectives 4.7 (+-0.5), understanding of the roles and limitations of systematic reviews/ meta-analysis 4.6(+-0.5) ability to critically appraise a systematic review 4.1(+-0.8), ability to use the Cochrane Library 4.5(+-0.6), understanding the application of systematic review in clinical practice 4.3 (+-0.7), increased their knowledge on systematic reviews 4.8(+-0.7), and would recommend it to their colleagues 4.4 (+-0.5). In addition, Sufficient time of interactive learning 3.9 (+-0.6), appropriate length of time for objectives 4.1 (+-0.58), efficiency of workstations 4.1 (+-0.8) and efficient audiovisual presentations 4.5 (+-0.87). There were no significant differences in the evaluations by discipline.

Conclusions: Our half-day workshop strategy was successful in fulfilling our immediate objectives, particularly in increasing the participants knowledge, limitations on systematic reviews. Ensuring an efficient, reliable system to provide hands on experience with the Cochrane Library remains a challenge. Joint hosting of the workshop with the postgraduate program and the subspecialty organization is the single most important factor for successful implementation of this initiative.