School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Evidence-Informed Decision-Making (PHCM9781)

image - Evidence-Informed Decision-Making

Students enrolled in a dual masters program are not permitted to enrol in this course.


The objectives for this course is to introduce students to the process of evidence-based decision making. The focus is on developing an appreciation and skills in applying epidemiological concepts to evidence and knowledge students are exposed to during their health services work.  The course aims to develop students skills in weakness and strengths of different commonly used epidemiological design in health services research and interpret the statistical evidence. The material used focuses on a health services core activity for patient safety and is an activity that is readily understandable to all health services student.

Credit points

This course is a core course of the Master of Health Management Program and Master of Infectious Diseases Intelligence programs, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total 48 units of credit, required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aim of this course is tointroduce you to evidence-based decision making by developing your understanding of knowledge and evidence, skills in searching for evidence and critical appraisal skills of relevant research to inform your decision making in health management.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • Understand the meaning of knowledge and evidence and how this relates to the ‘accepted’ knowledge base and to one’s own decision making
  • Identify the role of the level of evidence managers required according to the different types of decisions that managers make
  • Determine the category of a question for supporting a health management issue requiring an evidence informed decision
  • Identify an appropriate study design for the category of question and the limitations of each study design and the quality of evidence it provides
  • Understand how the study design must accommodate the feasibility and ethical requirements
  • Explain the appropriate use and interpretation of descriptive and inferential statistics and the principles of reliability and predictive validity
  • Critically appraise a scientific publication for its strengths and weaknesses and its relevance to the health management research question
  • Identify the possible impact of all other factors that are to be taken into consideration when seeking to implement evidence into health management practice
  • Introduce the approaches to communicating evidence based medicine/science with your staff and patient populations
Learning and teaching rationale

The course is structured for adult learning to gain the epidemiology and scientific reasoning knowledge and skills relevant for evidence informed decision making. The structure is designed to add to your developing knowledge and skill each week in preparation for each assessment and the final written piece where you bring all your knowledge together.


Assessment 1 - 6 Steps to Decision Making
Weighting: 10%
Length: Online discussion

Assessment 2 - Online Quiz 1
Weighting: 20%
Length: 20 multiple choice questions

Assessment 3 - Online Quiz 2
Weighting: 30%
Length: 10 multiple choice questions

Assessment 4 - Critical Review
Weighting: 40%

Learning resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. Course notes and readings
  2. An online learning component only for external students to engage in study group discussion and feedback
  3. Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  4. Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)

This course covers three areas that have yet to be written about in a single text:

  1. introduction to the epidemiological study designs,
  2. critical appraisal of published medical papers, and
  3. the management decisions you will make that are not covered in epidemiology or critical appraisal.

There are many excellent Evidence-Based Practice/Medicine textbooks. A few have been listed below, in order of preference. It is a requirement that you choose textbook 1 (Katz) or 2 (Hoffmann), while textbooks 3 and 4 are there to assist your understanding.

  1. David Katz. Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health. 4th Edition Saunders/Elsevier ISBN: 9781455706587
  2. Tammy Hoffmann. Evidence-Based Practice Across the Health Professions. 2nd Edition Churchill Livingstone ISBN 9780729541350
  3. Jeremy H Howick. The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine. Wiley Blackwell. SBN10 140519667X   ISBN13 978140519667
  4. Susan Hamer and Gill Collinson. Achieving Evidence-Based Practice, A Handbook for Practitioner. 2nd Edition. Elsevier ISBN 978070202776.