Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 709 - Evidence for Best Practice

15 Points

Semester 1


Evidence based practice uses epidemiological data derived from valid and clinically relevant research. This includes the accuracy of diagnostic tests, the power of prognostic markers and the efficacy and safety of therapeutic, rehabilitative or preventive interventions. This evidence is integrated with relevant contextual evidence such as patient and practitioner values, social, cultural and economic considerations to inform best practice.

Programme and course advice

This course is one of the two core options for the Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (POPLHLTH 708 or POPLHLTH 709). It is particularly relevant to part-time students in a public health programme who are working health professionals.

POPLHLTH709 is a required course for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health in Effective Practice and is a highly recommended course for the medical science specialisation of General Practice and Primary Health Care, as well as for general health sciences students working in primary health care.

This course is delivered entirely online.

Course aims

Content Outline

  • Introduction to evidence based health care in the context of improving the quality of health care
  • Framing clinical questions
  • Literature searching using PUBMED and other electronic databases
  • Introduction to the Graphic Appraisal Tool for Epidemiology(GATE)
  • Critical Appraisal of the following study designs (theory and practice): Randomised controlled trials (including Systematic Reviews)
  • Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies
  • Prognostic Studies
  • Case Control Studies
  • Integrating the epidemiological and contextual evidence to inform clinical decision making

Goals of the course

The course is primarily aimed at professionals working in the health care sector (including clinical practice, research, management, planning and policy) who wish to be more systematic in the way evidence can be used to inform individual health care decisions and health care policy. As the overall goal of the course is the integration of research into practice, it is equally relevant to practitioners and researchers.

The course aims to:

  • Increase students understanding of the use of epidemiological principles to generate evidence relevant to health care decisions
  • Facilitate development of implementation skills and knowledge that will allow students to translate evidence into practice

Learning outcomes 

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify information needs for health care decisions and construct answerable questions to find the relevant literature.
  2. Describe the major epidemiological designs and their use in the context of improving the quality of health care.
  3. Critically appraise published epidemiological studies to determine their validity and applicability.
  4. Apply their knowledge of the basic statistical concepts to communicate outcomes of epidemiological research.
  5. Critically reflect and synthesise the epidemiological evidence with contextual evidence to inform best practice.

Learning and Teaching

This course is delivered via distance-learning, using a flexibly taught programme to provide for students off campus. Course information, material, and discussion forums are made available to students via CANVAS the University’s learning management system.


Learning Resources


  • CANVAS: All teaching presentations and additional course material are available on CANVAS
  • Highly Recommended text book: Hoffmann T, Bennett S & Del Mar C. Evidence-Based Practice Across the Health Professions, 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone 2013



This course is internally assessed and includes: two critical appraisal assessments (each worth 20%), a written assessment (25%), an online test (25%), and a series of short answer questions (worth 10%). The assessments are designed to develop skills for critical appraisal of the different epidemiological study designs and to broaden knowledge of related epidemiological and contextual issues in health care decision making.

Course Director

Teaching staff

Course Administrator