Traditional educational methods change clinical practice only with considerable effort and difficulty.In particular, the teaching of critical appraisal in the setting of journal clubs does not increase the amount of medical research read by trainees. Experiential learning theory, corroborated by the success of problem-based learning, encourages us to link learning to the numerous medical questions that physicians generate while providing patient care. Systematic reviews can link these questions with the results of research that would otherwise be difficult to locate, read, and appraise.
Systematic reviews are a uniquely powerful mechanism for teaching, and they offer teachers a new opportunity to model rational and effective use of information.Systematic reviews should be made available at clinical sites for use during “teachable moments.” Resistance to the use of systematic reviews can be reduced by using existing journal clubs to teach about the strengths and limitations of these reviews. The point that systematic reviews are meant to assist, not replace, clinical decision making deserves emphasis in such teaching.