Evidence-Based Practice for Nurses
When relying on evidence-based practice in nursing, it is necessary to understand the difference between statistical significance and clinical significance in order to effectively apply evidence in practice. Statistical significance determines the likelihood of observing certain relationships between variables with a focus on the reliability of research study results. Thus, the probability or p value is used in research to measure statistical significance for the purpose of supporting the fact that the observed results are not due to chance, and there is a true and reliable relationship between variables. On the contrary, clinical significance is related to actual effects of certain treatments and interventions on patients (Schmidt & Brown, 2019). Healthcare providers refer to clinical significance when they discuss the practical importance and the treatment effect of particular interventions. From this perspective, statistical significance indicates only the probability of effects when clinical significance is related to actual effects in clinical practice.
As a consequence, statistically significant results presented in studies do not mean that findings are clinically important in all the cases. In spite of the present statistical significance, clinical significance of study findings should be proved in clinical settings, depending on healthcare professionals’ application of interventions and their reasoning. For example, even if the p value in a study is set 0.05, implying that a relationship between variables exists with a 95% certainty, the clinical significance of the proposed treatment or intervention will be determined only if this intervention demonstrates a noticeable effect on a patient in a real life (Fleischmann & Vaughan, 2019). Therefore, speaking about statistical and clinical significance, it is possible to state that statistical significance is related to research and clinical significance is related to practical importance.
Fleischmann, M., & Vaughan, B. (2019). Commentary: Statistical significance and clinical significance – A call to consider patient reported outcome measures, effect size, confidence interval and minimal clinically important difference (MCID). Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 23(4), 690-694. Web.
Schmidt, N. A., & Brown, J. M. (2019). Evidence-based practice for nurses: Appraisal and application of research (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.