Speaking to students about Cochrane

Speaking to students about Cochrane

Reposted, with permission, from Cochrane CanadaCochrane Canada’s Knowledge Broker, Eileen Vilis, shares more about her recent presentation to students and offers tips to other Cochrane groups. 

Cochrane Canada was again invited to speak to the dental hygiene students and staff at the Canadian National Institute of Health in Ottawa about Cochrane and its many resources. When the students were polled at the beginning of the session, most of the thirty-three dental hygiene students had not heard about or used Cochrane Reviews or resources. Although they would learn about Cochrane Reviews later in their research course, their clinical coordinator believed hearing about Cochrane resources from a Cochrane Canada staff member was an excellent opportunity to understand how research could be used in dental hygiene practice.

The students were given the chance to learn about Cochrane, its resources, and how they could use this high-quality healthcare evidence. Included in the presentation were: what Cochrane is, why systematic reviews are important, and the types of questions Cochrane Reviews answer. A variety of Cochrane Review examples specific to dental health care were used throughout, demonstrating where to find and how to use Cochrane Reviews.

By the end of the session, another poll of the students indicated that they now understood the variety of resources Cochrane offered and which resources they would use most frequently.

Given our experience, here are some top tips to help your Cochrane group speak to students:

1.   Guest speakers are welcome: professors/instructors are often happy to have a guest speaker present, and students enjoy the experience too. Speak to relevant professors/instructors or department heads about the possibility.

2.     Give some background: you may be the first exposure to Cochrane evidence for the students. It’s good to give some background on what Cochrane is and why we do what we do; a slide on the components of evidence-based practice (research information, clinical experience and patient values, preferences and needs); why evidence may not be used by practitioners and consumers; what systematic reviews are, why they are important, and what types of questions are answered by Cochrane Reviews.

3.   Use relevant and/or interesting examples: providing examples based on a relevant study area or health questions encountered by most people in daily life increases the chances of the information sticking - such as  “Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise”, “Vitamin C for colds”. Use at least one Cochrane Review with a positive outcome such as “Powered versus manual toothbrushing”, “Pilates for low back pain”, “Acupuncture for tension-type headaches”.

4.  Take your audience on a tour of where to find and how to use available Cochrane resources: the Cochrane website (including latest Cochrane evidence, Top 10, Our evidence, How to search, and Podcasts) and the Cochrane Library (learn about, sign up for, and search; Special Collections and Cochrane Journal Club). Other local websites and resources can be featured, such as related Centre or Review Group websites, training and events, and Cochrane external newsletter.

5.  Measure your success: we conducted a short survey at the start and end of our session to see how well we met our goals, which resources the audience were most likely to use, and collect feedback for improvement.

Remember that the students you speak to have the potential to improve so many lives with using Cochrane evidence in their future practice….or could become future Cochrane authors!

Eileen Vilis
Knowledge Broker

Cochrane Canada

30 March 2016

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