What Is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence-based practice uses the best, most current knowledge of assessing and treating patients, while respecting their needs, values, and preferences. Each clinician will continually educate him or herself in current research findings, and incorporate the best practices in the daily patient service and care. This ensures each patient of receiving the most effective care possible.

What Is Evidence-Based Practice?

There are a number of ways to describe evidence-based practice, but they all boil down to essentially the same thing. David Sackett and his colleagues said it most succinctly: "Evidence-based medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values."

In 2004, the executive board of ASHA appointed a coordinating committee to evaluate evidence-based practice as it applied to the development opportunities and planning needs of ASHA. This committee implemented a variation of this definition.

Combining clinical expertise and expert opinion, scientific evidence, with patient/caregiver values, needs, interests, and choices is the goal of EBP. Evidence-based practice is patient-centered, therefore the clinician’s job is to research and discover the best current evidence based on the patient’s condition, environment, preferences, culture, and health-related values. The goal is to proved the individual patient with the best possible care. Because knowledge in this field is ever expanding, the clinician will seek to keep up with the newest information in order to perform his or her care duties at the highest level possible.

The Process of Evidence-Based Practice

What is evidence-based practice and how does it work in a real-life setting? A number of evidence-based practice approaches have been established to assist clinicians in implementing EBP in their workplace. There are also a number of websites that discuss these approaches. The most prevalent procedure outlines six steps:

       1. Conceive a clinical question

       2. Research available literature

       3. Read and evaluate the literature

       4. Form a conclusion based on the research

       5. Implement the findings into your patient care. Document your recommendations, any changes you make, and the results you see. Include your patient, the caregiver, and anyone who it will affect, in this process.

       6. Write up the results of your evidence-based practice in order to share them with others.

Lately there has been a push to increase the awareness of clinicians of the three parts of the process: clinical data, research evidence, and informed patient choice. Thus, the term E3BP has been coined to reflect the threes vital components. There are many EBP resources available online to help clinicians with research. You can find critically appraised topics (CATs), critically appraised papers (CAPs), and published systematic reviews.

Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

The definition of evidence-based nursing has varied from source to source. An example of combining the definitions into one might read: It is an ongoing process by which practical experience, nursing theory, and scientific evidence are evaluated together, and involving the patient, to provide the best possible nursing care for the individual patient.

What is evidence-based practice and why should nurses and other clinicians use it? With the over-abundance on medical literature, both new and time-tested, that is available, a nurse could easily become overwhelmed. Nursing students spend much time learning how to design care plans, memorizing drug interactions, and learning pathophysiology. But book learning isn’t all there is to it. Nurses must learn critical thinking skills that allow them to function effectively in a fast-paced nursing environment. They need to learn to make independent decisions that are based on their knowledge, research, and evidence. This shift in healthcare practice for both doctors and nurses has become known as evidence-based practice or nursing. It involves the ability to access, summarize, and utilize the information gleaned from research in everyday situations. EBP demands systematic observation, experience, and the reliability of research literature to back up the decisions made. EBP also enables medical practitioners to meet their need for logical information in their daily practice. Nurses may enrich their training, experience, and knowledge with the latest research. With so much information out there, having the skills of EBP lets nurses access, evaluate, and use the information needed for their situation.

What Do Other People Say About Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?

"EBP is just a new way of saying an old concept. Nurses have always been taught to get surgical patients up and moving soon after surgery to prevent pneumonia. Now, the research actually backs up that theory."

"Nursing practices change over time because of evidence-based practices. I recall changes that were based on the latest research, such as the introduction of pain scales, the disappearance of concentrated potassium, and a new skin care policy. My workplace has a committee that writes nursing protocols. These change periodically based on new evidence."

"I think the term EBP is meaningless. You can prove nearly any practice, no matter how acclaimed or how dubious, if you research enough. If you work long enough, you’ll see old practices return based on "new" evidence."

"My opinion is that the term "evidence-based practice" is merely a new buzz word. The concept has been around for many years. Nurses have always used the latest medical knowledge and learned the best ways to implement that knowledge. The practices become standard, they are followed and are taught to the next generation of nursing students. This has always been how things have been done. Nurses have always sought the best possible ways to care for patients in a consistent manner. New information and procedures are discovered, and when proven, they become the new standard. "Evidence-based nursing" is just a new name for an old practice."

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