School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Evidence-Informed Decision-Making (PHCM9781)

image - Evidence-Informed Decision-Making

In EIDM you will be introduced to different types of decision-making and the level of evidence you will need to make different types of decisions in health services management. Some decisions need evidence and to obtain evidence you will learn how to search the literature for evidence related to a health services issue. Some decisions require the highest level quality of evidence so you will be introduced to study designs applied in medical research and epidemiological principles to evaluate the methodological shortfalls associated with the different designs. Other decisions need lower levels of evidence and you will learn about the appropriateness and flaws of methods for collecting lower level evidence. With this knowledge you will be able to determine the level of evidence you require to make a decision and critically appraise the evidence for flaws. You will also learn to interpret commonly used statistical techniques in health related and health services research. Your new skills will be applied and assessed to a set of papers related to a health service issue.

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

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

This course aims to introduce 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:
  • Discuss the meaning of knowledge and evidence and how this relates to the ‘accepted’ knowledge base and to one’s own decision making
  • Identify different types of decisions that managers undertake and the role of evidence within these
  • Determine the category of a question for supporting a health management issue requiring an evidence informed decision
  • Navigate various databases for which data can be gleaned and search for relevant scientific publications to support a research question
  • Identify an appropriate study design for a question and the limitations of each study design and the quality of evidence it provides
  • 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 will introduce the concepts required to achieve the course aim and learning outcomes.  The course has been structured for adult learning where you are supported during your learning to gain the knowledge and skills relevant to epidemiology and scientific reasoning for evidence informed decision making   During the semester you will be expected to undertake a range of learning activities that will contribute to your capacity to make evidence informed decisions in a health management context.

Teaching strategies

The course comprises of a non-compulsory on-campus workshop for all students, however we strongly recommend all students attend this workshop. At the workshop you will be working in groups as an introduction to each module that you will then follow-up away from campus with independent study of the course notes and readings. After completing the lecture notes and readings you will be required to undertake set exercises that provide an opportunity to develop your skills in evidence informed decision making.  These exercises are part of your formal assessment and you will need to satisfactorily complete these and submit at specified dates for meeting the course requirements.


You are required to complete 4 online assessments throughout the semester. 

Module 1 - Short Answers: Decision Making
Weighting: 5%
Length: Short Answers Online

Module 2 - Quiz: Searching for Evidence
Weighting: 10%
Length: Short Answers Online

Module 3 - Quiz: Research Questions and Study Design
Weighting: 15%
Length: Multiple Choice Online Quiz

Module 4 - Quiz: Statistics
Weighting: 20%
Length: Online Quiz - Short Answer & Multiple Choice

Module 5 - Quiz & Report: Critical Appraisal & Communicating Evidence
Weighting: 50%
Length: Short Answer & Multiple Choice Quiz plus 2 page report

Learning resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. A one-day residential school workshop
  2. Course notes and readings
  3. An online learning component only for external students to engage in study group discussion and feedback
  4. Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  5. 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. The following two books cover the first two points and are highly recommended but not mandatory: