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Evidence based practice (EBP)

What is Evidence Based Practice?

Using the best evidence available

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).

5 steps of EBP

Five steps of evidence based practice

  1. Ask the clinical question
    Convert the need for information into an answerable question. Take time to formulate a clear and detailed question.
  2. Acquire the evidence
    Find the best evidence to answer the question. Search for the best possible evidence from high quality, peer-reviewed sources.
  3. Appraise the evidence
    Critically appraise the evidence for validity, impact and applicability.
  4. Apply the evidence
    Apply the evidence in combination with clinical experience and patient values and circumstances.
  5. Assess the process
    Assess the effectiveness and efficiency of our process and find ways to improve for next time

Adapted from Straus et al. (2019).