The purpose of this guide is to define the subject of Evidence-Based Practice and to inform students, faculty, and our community of the many types of resources available to explore this topic.
While the concepts of evidence-based practice (EBP) are now commonly embraced in fields such as education, law and management*, much of it emerged in medicine. Accordingly, most of the examples and resources suggested in this guide are based on clinical research.
"Evidence based practice (EBP) is the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and the best evidence into the decision making process for patient care."
(Sackett, D.L., et al. (2000). Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.)
In contrast with a reliance on history or traditional solutions, EBP is the combination of existing clinical knowledge, consideration of the patient's needs and choices, and the most up-to-date and credible scientific research available. In an evidence-based approach, the clinician will begin by forming answerable questions about diagnosis, treatment, harm / etiology, prognosis or prevention with the patient's specific needs factored in. A research path is then chosen depending on the question type. The clinician (and often, a medical librarian) will gather information from the appropriate types of studies based on the strength and precision of their research methodology (more on the next page). The research is appraised for quality and relevance and then implemented based on each unique scenario. EBP also includes evaluation of the efficacy of the implemented clinical decision.
*Adoption of evidence-based practices can be found across many disciplines in the sciences, medicine and academia. Here are just a few of the statements you'll find among professional associations:
There are 5 steps in the EBP cycle. This guide focuses on the first three steps in the cycle: developing a searchable question, finding the evidence and appraising the quality of the evidence.
Construct an answerable clinical question derived from the patient dilemma
Systematically retrieve the best available research
Critically appraise the validity and applicability of the evidence
Integrate evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences and apply to practice
Evaluate the performance and success of the change in practice. Ask new questions...
Overwhelmed by the many types of studies, reviews, trials, and other research design jargon?
The Cochrane Community Glossary is an extensive dictionary of research terminology from a reputable source!
Portions of this guide's content were reused with kind permission from Curtin University Library.