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Medicine: Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)


When searching for information to answer clinical or research questions, you may be required to use evidence-based methods and resources. 

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence Based Practice is a process of clinical decision-making based on the best available evidence that has been critically assessed in the context of the needs and holistic profile of particular individual patient. It was first defined by Dr David Sackett in the 1990s.

  • The 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.

The steps in EBP

The Evidence-Based Practice process is usually seen as having 5 steps:

Step 1 ASK Express the problem as a clinical question (Ask the question)
Step 2 ACQUIRE Find evidence-based resources that answer the question (Acquire the evidence)
Step 3 APPRAISE Critically appraise the evidence to assess its validity (Appraise the evidence)
Step 4 APPLY Apply the evidence (Apply the evidence to the patient(s) or problem)
Step 5 ASSESS/AUDIT Evaluate your performance in carrying out Steps 1 - 4 (Assess and audit the process)


Want to know more?

Library Research Guide


A tutorial by the Duke University Medical Center Library and the Health Sciences Library at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Systematic Review

Systematic reviews are crucial in the evidence-based practice of health care professionals. They are often used as the basis for the creation of clinical guidelines.