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Postgraduate Nursing: Introduction to Evidence-Informed Practice

formerly Master of Nursing

What is Evidence-based / Evidence-informed practice?

Evidence Based Practice was first defined by Dr David Sackett in the 1990s, but a commonly-used more recent definition is:

" ... the integration of individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research and our patient's unique values and circumstances. (Straus, Glasziou, Richardson, & Haynes, 2019).

In addition, it "...requires the health professional to take into account characteristics of the practice context in which they work" (Hoffman, Bennett, & Mar, 2016, p.4).

  • Evidence-based practice is the intersection of clinical expertise, research evidence, information from the practice context, and the patients values and circumstancesThe best research evidence is usually from relevant research that has been carried out using sound methodology.
  • Clinical expertise is a combination of the clinician’s experience, education and clinical skills.
  • The patient has his/her own personal preferences, concerns, expectations, and values.
  • The practice context includes characteristics of the situation in which the interaction between patient and health professional is taking place - for example, the resources available.

Evidence-Based Practice has expanded from the original Evidence-Based Medicine to apply to other health professions and many other disciplines such as librarianship and education. 

Even more recently, the term Evidence-Informed Practice (EIP) has been used in nursing, in an attempt to give more emphasis to a person-centred approach and to provide "flexibility regarding the nature of the evidence and its use". (Woodbury & Kuhnke, 2014).

Hoffmann, T., Bennett, S., & Mar, C. D. (2016). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (3rd ed.). Elsevier Australia.

Straus, S. E., Glasziou, P., Richardson, W. S., & Haynes, R. B. (2019). Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM (5th ed.). Elsevier.

Woodbury, M. G., & Kuhnke, J. L. (2014). Evidence-based Practice vs. Evidence-informed Practice: What's the Difference? Wound Care Canada, 12(1), 26-29.

More resources

  • What is EBM? - From the website of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) (Toronto).

The steps in EBP/EIP

There are various models for listing the steps in the Evidence-Based Practice process. Here is a common 5-step approach:

1 Ask the question - Express the problem as a clinical question
2 Acquire the evidence - Find evidence-based research to address the question
3 Appraise the evidence - Critically appraise the evidence to assess its validity
4 Apply the evidence - to the patient or the problem
5 Re-evaluate the evidence - Assess and audit the process

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Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.