Attitudes to, and use of, evidence-based medicine in two Sydney divisions of general practice

Joanne L. Callen*, Kate Fennell, Jean H. McIntosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Previous surveys suggested Australian GPs felt positive towards evidence-based medicine (EBM) but had reservations about practising it. Strategies to promote EBM in Australian general practice were implemented by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and published online in 1998. The aim of this study was to explore attitudes to and use of EBM in a population of Sydney GPs four years after publication of the strategies. A postal survey was conducted in 2003 among a group of GPs in Sydney (n=135) with a response rate of 31%. The survey assessed: attitudes to and barriers to practising EBM; preferred methods in moving from opinion-based medicine to EBM; awareness and use of EBM resources; and ability to interpret research evidence. Two- thirds of respondents felt positive towards EBM. Time pressure was the most commonly perceived barrier to practising EBM and use of evidence-based guidelines was the most popular method in moving towards EBM. Among 70% of respondents, at least 40% of clinical practice was evidence-based. Awareness of the databases The Cochrane Library and Medline was high, but use of database information was rare. There was partial understanding of technical terms used in EBM. While overall these GPs had a positive attitude towards EBM, they indicated some reluctance to applying it. Thus it is probable that in this GP group EBM was used less than optimally. The evidence provided by this study suggests that the RACGP strategies to promote appropriate use of EBM in general practice need heightened emphasis among the GPs surveyed. The study's low response rate prevents any generalisation of findings to the Australian general practice workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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