Good health professionals inform their clinical practice by consulting the best evidence available to them.
Depending on the type of clinical question (risk, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, prevention, harm), the level of hierarchical evidence available will vary from the lowest levels, such as expert opinion, through to individual case studies, cohort studies, clinical trials and, finally, randomised trials and meta-analysies at the highest level.
Evidence based practice is the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and the best research evidence into the decision making process for patient care. Clinical expertise refers to the clinician's cumulated experience, education and clinical skills. The patient brings to the encounter his or her own personal and unique concerns, expectations, and values. The best evidence is usually found in clinically relevant research that has been conducted using sound methodology (Sackett et al., 1996).
Five steps of evidence based practice
Adapted from Straus et al. (2019).