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What is Evidence-Based Practice?

One of the main goals of the medical community is to effectively treat health problems while providing the best care possible. To align with this goal, the health care industry has adopted a number of methods and protocols, one of which is evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice is a three-pronged treatment approach that leverages clinical expertise along with leading research and overall patient care. For those in health care, it is essential to understand evidence-based practice and its role in providing quality health care.

3 Components of Evidence-Based Practice

Overall Patient Care

The first step within the evidence-based practice process is for patients and nurses to meet and identify health concerns. This can help formulate the question that need to be answered while seeking the proper evidence for treatment options. Within this first step, one of the most common methods for defining the question is PICO, which stands for Population (the group the patient belongs to), Intervention (treatment options considered), Comparison (alternative to compare with the intervention) and desired Outcome.

When meeting with patients, nurses will also seek to develop an understanding of a patient’s personal preferences, values and overall expectations for the treatment process.

Leading Research

After meeting with patients, nurse leaders will enter step two of the evidence-based practice process, examining peer-reviewed medical journals and/or clinically relevant documentation to uncover treatment options to present to the patient. Through this process, nurse leaders continue to consider patient values and expectations in order to develop a treatment plan that is unique to the patient.

When nurses are unable to uncover immediate evidence, they can rely on two other evidence discovery methods for finding the necessary insight to inform treatment options – systematic review and individual studies. Systematic review consists of numerous scientific assessments (systematically reviewed by the medical community) that relate to the specific medical issue facing the patient. Individual studies are not as widely cited or reviewed within the medical community, but provide unique, personal insight on a case-by-case basis.

Clinical Experience

After uncovering research, nurse leaders enter step three of the evidence-based practice process, where they leverage their clinical experience and patient values to evaluate the evidence. Effectively evaluating leading research is an important part of the evidence-based practice process as it ensures that nurse leaders are providing their patients with the most advanced and effective care possible. When evaluating medical evidence, nurses should keep three things in mind: relevance to the specific health issue or question, consideration of who wrote and published the medical evidence and their patient’s overall care.

Due to their understanding of care, nurse leaders may be able to take components of a number of research documents to form a unique care plan for the patient. Considering this, clinical experience can be considered the bridge that connects leading research with the first component, overall patient care.

Making the Decision

After completing the three components of the evidence-based practice process, nurse leaders and patients meet to make the final treatment decision, taking all the findings into consideration. The final treatment decision marks the completion of the evidence-based practice. Through its balanced approach, evidence-based practice works to provide more effective, personalized methods for patient management, as well as improve overall outcomes and patient communication.

As the health care industry continues to progress towards personalized health care treatment and care, the use of evidence-based practice can be extremely beneficial for both providers and patients alike. To achieve this, health care providers must continue to work closely with the patient throughout the process to improve care and overall patient outcomes.

Learn More

Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program helps students hone their knowledge and skills to assume leadership positions in healthcare systems, nursing informatics or nursing education. The program aims to develop students who could take a role in shaping health policy, in educating other nurses and health care professionals, and in providing advanced care to their patients. Norwich’s online nursing program coursework has been developed based on guidelines by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


Evidence-Based Practice (EBP), The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Finding the Evidence, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Assessing the Evidence, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Making the Decision, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

The Impact of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and the Next Big Ideas, The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

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