Why doctors find learning biostatistics and epidemiology difficult: lessons learnt from CPSP workshop using CIPP model

Arshad Kamal Butt, Gohar Wajid, Ayyaz Ali Khan


BACKGROUND: Acknowledging the pivotal role of biostatistics in practice of Evidence-Based Medicine, Universities and medical schools worldwide have incorporated courses on medical statistics in their curricula. Pakistani medical students lack an adequate background of mathematics and consider statistics difficult to learn. College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) has introduced a mandatory workshop on Biostatics and Epidemiology for supervisors and trainees.

AIM: This study attempts to evaluate the perceptions of supervisors and trainees regarding the effectiveness of CPSP workshop.

METHODS: A quantitative cross sectional descriptive study was conducted on a cohort of 56 participants (26 supervisors and 30 trainees) from Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore using Stufflebeam’s CIPP Model employing a 20 item 5-point Likert Scale questionnaire. Domains analyzed were: Context, Input, Process and Product.

RESULTS: Seventy five percent acknowledged the importance of statistics, 78% preferred clinical subjects over statistics and 85% suggested introducing the subject in pre-clinical years. Eighty five percent believed that the best time to introduce statistics was pre-clinical years. Fifty seven percent of the participants believed that learning statistics and epidemiology required a very strong background of mathematics, 66% found the workshop relevant to their needs but library resources were inadequate. Instructors’ knowledge and conduct was rated good to excellent. Teaching sessions were rated low being focused on calculations, not relevant to real health issues, boring and less time allocation. Forty five percent found assessment accurate, 56% gained skills in reading scientific papers, 52% could better interpret data after attending the workshop while 44% gained skills to design and analyze research. Satisfied clients were 55%, 61%, 46% and 55% in Context, Input, Process and Product domains respectively. Overall 54% of the participants were satisfied with the workshop with faculty members reporting a more positive and satisfied attitude than trainees.

CONCLUSION: Participants acknowledged the importance of biostatistics but considered the subject a formidable exercise. CPSP workshop was rated a good effort by only half of the participants. Reservations expressed were mainly about the methodology employed. It is proposed that the subject should be an examinable subject introduced in pre-medical years employing a constructivist approach. CPSP should incorporate mandatory evaluation in theory or OSCE examinations in Part II FCPS examinations in all disciplines.

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