How Comprehensively Is Evidence-Based Practice Represented in Australian Health Professional Accreditation Documents? A Systematic Audit

Maureen McEvoy, Michael Crilly, Taryn Young, Jane Farrelly, Lucy Lewis

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Phenonenon: In many developed countries, accreditation documents, which reflect the practice standards of health professions, form the basis for evaluation of education programs for meeting the requirements for registration. The 2005 Sicily statement proposed a 5-step model of training in evidence-based practice (ask, access, appraise, apply, and assess). A key recommendation was that evidence-based practice should be incorporated into entry-level health professional training and registration. No previous research has assessed the extent to which this has occurred. Approach: We undertook a systematic audit of the accreditation documents for the registered health professions in Australia. The 11 health professional disciplines included in the audit were medicine, nursing and midwifery, pharmacy, physiotherapy, dentistry, psychology, occupational therapy, optometry, podiatry, osteopathy, and chiropractic. Two investigators independently identified the occurrence of the term evidence that related to “evidence-based practice” and the occurrences of terms related to the 5 steps in the accreditation documents. Findings: Occurrence of the term evidence as it relates specifically to “evidence-based practice” ranged from 0 (pharmacy, dentistry and occupational therapy) to 8 (physiotherapy) in the accreditation documents. Overall, there were 77 occasions when terms relating to any of the 5 steps of evidence-based practice were used across all 11 accreditation documents. All 5 steps were included in the physiotherapy and psychology documents; 4 steps in medicine and optometry; 3 steps in pharmacy; 2 steps each in documents for chiropractic, osteopathy, and podiatry; and 1 step for nursing. There was no inclusion of terms relating to any of the 5 steps in the dentistry and occupational therapy documents. Insights: Terminology relating explicitly to evidence-based practice and to the 5 steps of evidence-based practice appears to be lacking in the accreditation documents for health professions registered in Australia. This is not necessarily reflective of the curricular content or quality, or dedication to evidence-based practice teaching. However, recognition and demand by accreditation bodies for skills in evidence-based practice may act as a driver for education providers to give greater priority to embedding this training in entry-level programs. Consequently, accreditation bodies are powerfully positioned to shape future directions, focus, and boundaries within and across professions. Future international audits of accreditation documents could provide insight into the global breadth of this phenomenon and contribute to closer scrutiny of the representation of evidence-based practice in future iterations of accreditation documents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)26-34
    Number of pages9
    JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


    • accreditation
    • audit
    • evidence-based medicine
    • health professional


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