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

There are various ways of listing the steps in the Evidence-Based Practice process, but a common way has 5 main steps:

1 Expressing the problem as a clinical question (Ask the question)
2 Finding evidence-based resources that answer the question (Acquire the evidence)
3 Critically appraising the evidence to assess its validity (Appraise the evidence)
4 Applying the evidence (Apply the evidence)
5 Re-evaluating the evidence and its application (Re-evaluate the evidence)

Choosing Your Clinical Question

You're advised to choose a Clinical Question that concerns you. This Research Skills Guide will examine the following hypothetical query:

"I work in an aged care facility where urinary tract infections are a common problem. I've heard that cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs. I wonder if there's any evidence for that and whether it might help our patients?"

The hypothetical query used in this guide is designed to demonstrate question formulation strategies & how to search for information. While your question(s) will obviously be different, you can still follow the steps used in this Guide, and apply them to your own Clinical Question.

To help you formulate a clinical question from an issue or problem you have identified you could use a number of different methods such as PICO or SPIDER:

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.


Further Reading