1. Hathaway, Lisa RN, MSN

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In our time of TV shows such as CSI and Law & Order, sleuths are always looking for evidence. But do we as nurses deliver care based on evidence? Ask yourself these questions: Why do you perform the nursing interventions that you do? Do you know if your actions are grounded in science? What study verified that the intervention was the correct action given the situation?

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Evidence-based practice (EBP) is defined as "the use of research to guide clinical decision making."1 This begs the question: What studies or literature are valid and which ones should we rely on? The first clinical practice guidelines for EBP were published in 1992 by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), categorizing the strength of evidence into five levels:

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* meta-analysis (multiple studies)


* experimental studies


* quasi-experimental studies


* nonexperimental studies


* case reports or clinical examples.2



Nursing is gradually building its knowledge base. More and more nursing studies are being done and published in the literature-a good thing for nurses. This allows us to provide research-based interventions, which helps standardize nursing care across the country and improve nursing practice as a whole. We can then use EBP guidelines to guide the education of new nurses.


Is EBP part of the language where you work? I'll admit when I first started attending graduate school, I didn't know what it meant for me or my practice as a nurse. I wasn't aware that the interventions I performed every day were rooted in the body of knowledge of nursing practice. This opened up a whole new world for me, as I hope it does for you as you provide daily care to your patients.


Frankly, I'm proud to perform the care I give based on nursing science. I believe that, in the world we live in today, our patients are savvy and will expect the care they receive to be the newest proven treatments or therapies. I know I would want that if I were a patient!!


So where are you in the quest for evidence? Please e-mail me at and share your thoughts about this important topic.






1. Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, et al. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996;312(7023):71-72. [Context Link]


2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Major source of EBM evaluations. [Context Link]