Evidence-based practice is now widely recognized as the key to improving healthcare quality and patient outcomes. It combines the best available scientific data with nursing expertise, patient preferences, and values. This approach to problem-solving in clinical practice promotes personalized patient care by nurses. Thus, evidence-based nursing practice is an advanced problem-solving technique designed to become an integral part of clinical decision-making and play a key role in achieving the best treatment outcomes.
Evidence-based medicine was introduced to denote medical practice based on the data of methodologically correct scientific clinical research. The transition from “opinion-based practice” to “evidence-based practice” is associated with several reasons. Schulte (2020) notes that these include the need for reliable information about methods of diagnosis, therapy, prevention, and prognosis and the discrepancy between diagnostic capabilities and clinical thinking. The importance of this development in medical practice lies in the fact that traditional sources of such information are outdated and not objective since they are based on subjective judgments that are not supported by scientifically sound evidence and research. Opinion-based practice is too variable in its validity to be used in nursing practice. Thus, the importance of moving from an “opinion-based practice” to “evidence-based practice” lies in its focus on providing the most effective available care to improve patient outcomes. Patients expect to receive the most effective care based on the best available evidence.
In healthcare practice, the following main stages of the EBP process are distinguished. In the first stage, the doctor needs to formulate a task and translate information necessities into questions that should be answered. Wording the question in PICO format allows to define the keywords with which the search for evidence is carried out. The next step is to search for and identify the best scientifically-based information to answer the questions posed. An essential step in the EBP process is the critical assessment of evidence, which determines the validity of the data found. The fourth step in the EBP process is to integrate clinical practice and individual patient characteristics. This step involves considering the evidence in terms of clinical fit and patient needs. The final stage is to assess the feasibility of introducing scientific evidence-based technologies into practice, during which the results of the work done are assessed. Djulbegovic and Guyatt (2017) highlight the sixth step, disseminating and transferring knowledge. Thus, EBP is a complex process with a series of sequential steps.
EBP plays a significant role for health care providers, as without it, they run the risk of experiencing differences in care that can seriously affect patient outcomes. According to Sheridan and Julian (2016), scientific knowledge is booming, but evidence-based medicine offers clinicians the opportunity to stay on top of best practices using standardized, evidence-based protocols. Incorporating EBP into nursing empowers nurses to conduct research to make informed decisions. With EBP, nurses can keep abreast of new medical protocols for patient care. By finding documented interventions that match their patient profiles, nurses can improve their patients’ chances of recovery. EBP allows nurses to evaluate the research to understand the risks or effectiveness of a diagnostic test or treatment. Thus, the use of EBP enables nurses to include patients in their care plans.
EBP is of equal importance to patients because each patient with individual characteristics is at the head of evidence-based medicine. This type of medicine requires the use of specific steps to collect sufficient information necessary to answer a clearly posed question concerning a particular patient. It involves the use of a series of steps to gather enough valuable information for a thorough evidence-based medicine response and includes the patient’s value system, which provides for such aspects as costs incurred, the patient’s religious or moral beliefs, and patient autonomy. Therefore, using EBP can enable patients to become more active participants in their care as they can express concerns, share their values and preferences, and make suggestions on how they want to proceed.
The practice of evidence-based medicine is vital in today’s healthcare environment. Schulte (2020) states that this model of care contributes to improved quality of health care services, greater patient satisfaction, and lower costs. Evidence-based medicine improves healthcare because physicians have access to previously unused data and best practices that have been validated and agreed with peers. The use of EBP improves patient outcomes, which can reduce the need for health care resources. In this way, healthcare organizations can cut costs. For example, legacy methods might include supplies, equipment, or products that are no longer needed for specific procedures or practices. Moreover, evidence-based medicine enhances transparency, accountability, and value. Evidence-based medicine is committed to increasing the transparency of policy arguments, and enhancing accountability by justifying decisions based on sound information that can go as far as scrutiny and measurement uncertainty. Thus, EBP makes a significant contribution to the development of healthcare.
Thus, EBP is a healthcare approach that uses the latest available research to improve patient health and safety while reducing overall costs and differences in health outcomes. It is applied to problem-solving, combining best practices from the latest medical literature with clinical experience and the values and preferences of the patients being treated. Evidence-based medicine addresses gaps in clinical care that rely on expert judgment based on physiological arguments and unstructured use of evidence and instead provide a consistent basis for evaluating and applying the best available evidence in making clinical care decisions. EBP’s ultimate success lies in lower health care costs, higher recovery rates, and improved patient care. All of these results contribute to enhanced quality of care over time.
Djulbegovic, B., & Guyatt, G. H. (2017). Progress in evidence-based medicine: a quarter century on. Lancet, 390(10092), 415–423.
Schulte, M.-C. (2020). Evidence-based medicine – A paradigm ready to be challenged? How scientific evidence shapes our understanding and use of medicine. J.B. Metzler.
Sheridan, D. J., & Julian, D. G. (2016). Achievements and limitations of evidence-based medicine. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 68(2), 204–213.