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Fam Med. 2012 Feb;44(2):98-104.

An instrument to characterize the environment for residents' evidence-based medicine learning and practice.

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Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, 130 Kresge Library, 2200 North Squirrel Road, Rochester, MI 48309, USA.



Many residency programs offer training in evidence-based medicine (EBM). However, these curricula often fail to achieve optimal learning outcomes, perhaps because they neglect various contextual factors in the learning environment. We developed and validated an instrument to characterize the environment for EBM learning and practice in residency programs.


An EBM Environment Scale was developed following scale development principles. A survey was administered to residents across six programs in primary care specialties at four medical centers. Internal consistency reliability was analyzed with Cronbach's coefficient alpha. Validity was assessed by comparing predetermined subscales with the survey's internal structure as assessed via factor analysis. Scores were also compared for subgroups based on residency program affiliation and residency characteristics.


Out of 262 eligible residents, 124 completed the survey (response rate 47%). The overall mean score was 3.89 (standard deviation=0.56). The initial reliability analysis of the 48-item scale had a high reliability coefficient (Cronbach α=.94). Factor analysis and further item analysis resulted in a shorter 36-item scale with a satisfactory reliability coefficient (Cronbach α=.86). Scores were higher for residents with prior EBM training in medical school (4.14 versus 3.62) and in residency (4.25 versus 3.69).


If further testing confirms its properties, the EBM Environment Scale may be used to understand the influence of the learning environment on the effectiveness of EBM training. Additionally, it may detect changes in the EBM learning environment in response to programmatic or institutional interventions.

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