POPLHLTH 709 : Evidence for Best Practice

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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.

Course Overview

POPLHLTH 709 is a 15 point Masters level online course  aimed at improving the use of epidemiological data to guide clinical and healthcare decision-making and applying it in the context of the learner's own practice. It also gives an overview of qualitative evidence and the value this can add. The course will help you understand the key principles of evidence-based practice and provide you with some useful tools to help you adopt an evidence-based practice approach. This postgraduate online course is primarily aimed at professionals working in the health care sector or researchers who wish to be more systematic in the way epidemiological evidence can be used to inform individual health care decisions and health care policy. An overall goal is assessing the relevance of scientific evidence in the context of your own practice, and using this knowledge in shared decision-making. Key components of the course include understanding how to access valid and clinically relevant studies, how to appraise scientific evidence from a variety of methodological designs (e.g. studies of therapeutic or preventive interventions, observational studies, studies of diagnostic tests, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, qualitative research) and how to integrate this evidence with your knowledge of the clinical context and your own professional expertise. The course also covers how new evidence-based interventions can be implemented into practice, and the factors required for shared decision making. It is delivered online and asynchronously so that you can work at your own pace and in your own time.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Associate Professor Susan Wells
09 923 2463

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Public Health

Learning Outcomes

By 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. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Identify the best epidemiological study designs to answer health care questions (Capability 1, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Critically appraise different types of epidemiological studies (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8)
  4. Apply scientific and contextual evidence, and professional judgement for best practice (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the factors required for shared-decision making (Capability 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8)
  6. Describe how an evidence-based intervention might be implemented into regular practice (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Ask and Access Assignment 10% Individual Coursework
Study Appraisal Assignment 25% Individual Coursework
Mid Term Test 30% Individual Test
Final Test 35% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Ask and Access Assignment
Study Appraisal Assignment
Mid Term Test
Final Test

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 12 hours of lectures, two one-hour tutorials,  36 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 70 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode


Attendance is expected at scheduled online activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.
The course will  include live online events including tutorials and these will be recorded.
Attendance on campus is not required for the examination.
Study material will be available from the start of the semester to enable students to work at their own pace.
This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Recommended Text Book
Hoffmann T, Bennett S, Mar CD. Evidence-Based Practice Across the Health Professions. 3rd ed ed: Elsevier 2017.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

  1. A lack of interaction with other members of the class is always a potential issue for an online course but for many, the asynchronous nature of the course is what works for them as busy clinicians. We run our tutorials in the evenings but only between 10% to 20% of students are able to attend these. In encourage a learning community, we will look at stimulating discussion on the discussion forum more pro-actively rather than having this mainly as a mechanism for students to engage with each other.
  2. In 2023 about 5% of students requested more support to understand concepts covered in the mid-semester multichoice assessment. For 2024 we will host an assessment tutorial and record this for those unable to attend. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.