Methods: After three years of a new EBD curriculum (2008-2011), trained students (TS, n=98) and non-trained students (NTS, n=101) were surveyed with the SPEAK survey instrument (student practices, experiences, attitudes, knowledge) in spring 2011. The knowledge section had ten questions, and the attitudes section had 23 questions. The data were analyzed with SPSS software, and groups were compared with Mann Whitney U and t-tests. The reliability of the knowledge and attitude scales was measured with the Chronbach’s alpha test.
Results: The reliability of the knowledge scale was .828, while the attitudes scale was .833. The TS had significantly higher knowledge scores than the NTS (p<.001). Regarding strength of evidence, the TS were more likely to rate the case-controlled double blind clinical trial as strong (p=.011), while the NTS were more likely to rate (inappropriately) the clinical case report (p=.006) and clinical experience (p=.002) as strong. Finally, the TS reported more confidence in appraising the following: appropriateness of the study design (p=.033), sources of bias in study design (p<.001), adequacy of the sample size (p=.009), generalizability of the findings (p<.001) and overall value of the research report (p=.015).
The new curriculum has been successful in increasing the EBD knowledge level of dental students over time. It has also increased their confidence in evaluating research reports and their skill in identifying the strength of research evidence. These skills will assist the new dental practitioners in seeking the highest quality evidence for answering patient questions and making clinical decisions about diagnosis and treatment. This study was supported by NIH # DE018883 and the Baylor Oral Health Foundation.
Keywords: Education research and Evidence