Background: over recent years, the Universidade Metropolitana de Santos (UNIMES), a private university in Brazil, has encouraged teachers and students to conduct high-quality scientific research. The implementation of evidence-based health education has been useful to disseminate basic knowledge of different study design methodology and critical appraisal of the literature, integrated with the concepts of problem-based learning, in order to employ the best available evidence in clinical decisions.
Objectives: to describe the strategy for teaching and disseminating Cochrane methodology for students and teachers of the Universidade Metropolitana de Santos (UNIMES), in Brazil.
Methods: we created a study group in February 2019, co-ordinated by a professor with expertise in Cochrane systematic reviews. The intended audience was teachers and students of all graduation and post-graduation health courses offered by the university (including, medicine, dentistry, nutrition, among others). One-hour weekly meetings were proposed for classes and practical activities on each step of a systematic review.
Results: the group included 25 attendees (7 medical students, 10 postgraduate students and 8 teachers). The topics covered in the theoretical classes and practical training were:
1) how to structure a question in the PICO framework;
2) planning the review protocol;
3) how to develop a search strategy in the different electronic databases (MEDLINE via PubMed, LILACS via BVS and Cochrane Library);
4) how to select studies for inclusion and collecting data;
5) why and how to assess risk of bias of the included studies;
6) how to carry out and interpret a meta-analysis;
7) why and how to use GRADE;
8) how to interpret the findings and develop discussion and conclusions.
During the practice learning, the attendees were free to discuss their own systematic review proposals.
Conclusions: participants are learning Cochrane methodology to conduct their own systematic reviews, each one in a different health area, with the support of experienced review authors. This initiative seems to be useful to learn and disseminate the relevance of a Cochrane Review in making clinical decisions.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: this teaching initiative reflected a picture of the lack of knowledge in evidence-based medicine among students and teachers of private health Universities in Brazil. The need for dissemination of Cochrane methodology and principles was evident and essential to improve the academic training and qualification of these future health professionals.