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Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

About This Guide

Photograph of a doctor explaining results to a patient from a laptop.

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.

Use the tabs to learn more about the five-step Evidence-Based Practice cycle and navigate to further reading.


"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.

A Venn diagram with three circles. Best Research Evidence, Clinical Expertise, Patient Values. EBP is where these circles intersect.

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:

The EBP Cycle

There are 5 steps in the EBP cycle:


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...


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.


Portions of this guide's content were reused with kind permission from Curtin University Library.