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Nursing - Evidence-Based Practice

What is EBP?

This guide focuses on the first three steps of the EBP process: Asking a Question, Searching, and Evidence Appraisal.

Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice

Credit: Molly Montgomery, MLS, MS - ISU Library

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence based nursing is a part of the larger scope of evidence based practice. One of the most common definitions of evidence based practice comes from Dr. David Sackett. He describes EBP as:

"...the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research."

Sackett, D. Evidence-based Medicine - What it is and what it isn't. BMJ 1996; 312:71-72.


The following graphic breaks down the three components that make up EBP:

Duke University Medical Center Library (2015). Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice.

Steps in EBP

While there are differing takes and opinions on the names and number of steps in EBP, they all have the same key concepts:

  1. Ask a clinical question
  2. Search the published literature
  3. Appraise the articles
  4. Integrate the findings into your practice
  5. Evaluate the results
  6. Disseminate (share) your findings

Why Use EBP?

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that there was an unacceptable gap between what practitioners know and what we they do in the care of patients (IOM, 2001).

Evidence-based practice attempts to bridge this gap by incorporating a review of the current published research, along with the practitioner's own expertise and the patient's preferences. The goal is to help practitioners make informed and personalized treatment-based decisions and deliver the highest quality health care to their patients.

Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the quality chasm: A new health system for the 21st century. Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, Institute of Medicine. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

Other EBP Guides & Tutorials

Glossaries of EBP Terms/Concepts