Evidence based practice (EBP) is the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care (Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000).
It is a problem-solving approach to clinical practice and administrative issues that integrates:
A systematic search for and critical appraisal of the most relevant evidence to answer a burning clinical question
One's own clinical expertise
Patient preferences and values (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2014)
The EBP process is a method that allows the practitioner to assess research, clinical guidelines, and other information resources based on high quality findings and apply the results to practice.
EBP is an evolving, ongoing, systematic process of applying relevant research to clinical problem-solving, using the following steps:
Transform your information need into a focused research question (PICO process)
Search for evidence in the literature using reliable resources
Critically assess the evidence for validity and usefulness
Apply the results in clinical practice
Evaluate the performance of that evidence in clinical use
The first stage of any evidence-based practice process is formulating an answerable question. This forms the foundation for quality searching. A well-formulated question will facilitate the search for evidence and will assist you in determining whether the evidence is relevant to your question.
An answerable question has a format that follows the PICO format. The acronym translates to:
Example PICO Questions
What interventions reduce the incidence and severity of bed sores in residents of aged care facilities?
What method for assessing temperature in children who come to the Emergency Department is most useful for an accurate assessment?
Does hand washing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infections?
*Image from https://research.lib.buffalo.edu/dnp/evidence-based-practice
It is important to understand the types of research available when you search for scientific studies. Not all studies are the same. They may differ for a number of reasons including: the purpose of the research study, the funding of the study, the methods used in the study, the population being studied, or the intended use of the study findings. As a researcher, you are responsible for understanding the difference between strong and week scientific evidence. The above hierarchy is a starting point for understanding what makes scientific evidence strong or weak, and how to evaluate studies that you find in your research. Focusing your search on meta-analyses and systematic reviews, or studies that use randomized controlled trials will help ensure that you are using strong evidence.
Key Questions to Reveal an Article's Strengths & Weaknesses:
Answering "yes" to most of these questions should indicate that the article conveys quality research. Answering an equal number of "yes" and "no" to these questions will require that you make a decision about whether the quality of the article meets your needs. If it doesn't, keep looking.
Source credit: Massachusetts General Hospital