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Evidence-Based Practice

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Originally coined as Evidence-Based Medicine, the concept has been expanded over the years to include a variety of disciplines and fields.  As such, you may see references to Evidence-Based Medicine, Evidence-Based Dentistry, Evidence-Based Nursing, and others. 

However, for the most part these all refer to the same basic concept of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP), or using the best evidence available, combined with the practitioner's clinical expertise and the patient's preferences, to inform the care of patients.

EBP is typically broken down into 5 main steps:

  • Ask a focused clinical question
  • Acquire evidence to answer the question
  • Appraise the evidence found for quality and rigor
  • Apply the evidence to patient care
  • Assess the effect of this application on patient outcomes

We will discuss the first 3 steps of this process in this guide.

EBP Definitions

Below are some definitions of discipline-specific versions of EBP:

Evidence-Based Medicine:

"Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.  The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research."

Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., Gray, J. A., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 312(7023), 71–72.

Evidence-Based Dentistry:

“an approach to oral healthcare that requires the judicious integration of systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence, relating to the patient’s oral and medical condition and history, with the dentist’s clinical expertise and the patient’s treatment needs and preferences.”

American Dental Association. (2017). About EBD.  Retrieved from http://ebd.ada.org/en/about

Evidence-Based Nursing:

"an integration of the best evidence available, nursing expertise, and the values and preferences of the individuals, families, and communities who are served."

Sigma Theta Tau International. (2005). Evidence-Based Nursing Position Statement. Retrieved from https://www.sigmanursing.org/why-sigma/about-sigma/position-statements-and-resource-papers/evidence-based-nursing-position-statement

Understanding Evidence Based Practice

Video created by Steely Library at Northern Kentucky University (NKU).  This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.