Evidence-Based Practice: Step by Step The Seven Steps of Evidence-Based Practice

Article (PDF Available)inThe American journal of nursing 110(1):51-3 · January 2010with417 Reads
DOI: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000366056.06605.d2 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
This is the second article in a new series from the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation's Center for the Advancement of Evidence-Based Practice. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to the delivery of health care that integrates the best evidence from studies and patient care data with clinician expertise and patient preferences and values. When delivered in a context of caring and in a supportive organizational culture, the highest quality of care and best patient outcomes can be achieved.The purpose of this series is to give nurses the knowledge and skills they need to implement EBP consistently, one step at a time. Articles will appear every two months to allow you time to incorporate information as you work toward implementing EBP at your institution. Also, we've scheduled "Ask the Authors" calls every few months to provide a direct line to the experts to help you resolve questions. See details below.
R
esearch studies show that
evidence-based practice
(EBP) leads to higher qual-
ity care, improved patient out-
comes, reduced costs, and greater
nurse satisfaction than traditional
approaches to care.
1-5
Despite
these favorable findings, many
nurses remain inconsistent in their
implementation of evidence-based
care. Moreover, some nurses,
whose education predates the in-
clusion of EBP in the nursing cur-
riculum, still lack the computer
and Internet search skills neces-
sary to implement these practices.
As a result, misconceptions about
EBP—that it’s too difficult or too
time-consumingcontinue to
flourish.
In the first article in this series
(“Igniting a Spirit of Inquiry: An
Essential Foundation for Evidence-
Based Practice, November 2009),
we described EBP as a problem-
solving approach to the delivery
of health care that integrates the
best evidence from well-designed
studies and patient care data,
and combines it with patient
preferences and values and nurse
expertise. We also addressed the
contribution of EBP to improved
care and patient outcomes, de-
scribed barriers to EBP as well as
factors facilitating its implementa-
tion, and discussed strategies for
igniting a spirit of inquiry in clin-
ical practice, which is the founda-
tion of EBP, referred to as Step
Zero. (Editor’s note: although
EBP has seven steps, they are
numbered zero to six.) In this
article, we offer a brief overview
of the multistep EBP process.
Future articles will elaborate on
each of the EBP steps, using
the context provided by the
Case Scenario for EBP: Rapid
Response Teams.
Step Zero: Cultivate a spirit of
inquiry. If you’ve been following
this series, you may have already
started asking the kinds of ques-
tions that lay the groundwork
for EBP, for example: in patients
with head injuries, how does
supine positioning compared
with elevating the head of the
bed 30 degrees affect intracranial
pressure? Or, in patients with
supraventricular tachycardia,
how does administering the
β-blocker metoprolol (Lopressor,
Toprol-XL) compared with ad-
ministering no medicine affect
By Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD,
RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN,
Ellen Fineout-Overholt, PhD, RN,
FNAP, FAAN, Susan B. Stillwell, DNP,
RN, CNE, and Kathleen M.
Williamson, PhD, RN
The Seven Steps of Evidence-Based Practice
Following this progressive, sequential approach will lead
to improved health care and pa tient outcomes.
This is the second article in a new series from the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innova-
tions Center for the Advancement of Evidence-Based Practice. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving
approach to the delivery of health care that integrates the best evidence from studies and patient care data with clini-
cian expertise and patient preferences and values. When delivered in a context of caring and in a supportive organi-
zational culture, the highest quality of care and best patient outcomes can be achieved.
The purpose of this series is to give nurses the knowledge and skills they need to implement EBP consistently, one
step at a time. Articles will appear every two months to allow you time to incorporate information as you work
toward implementing EBP at your institution. Also, we’ve scheduled “Ask the Authors” calls every few months to pro-
vide a direct line to the experts to help you resolve questions. See details below.
ajn@wolterskluwer.com AJN
January 2010
Vol. 110, No. 1 51
Ask the Authors on January 22!
O
n January 22 at 3:30 PM EST, join the “Ask the Authors
call. Its your chance to get personal consultation from the
experts! And it's limited to the first 50 callers, so dial-in early!
U.S. and Canada, dial 1-800-947-5134 (International, dial
001-574-941-6964). When prompted, enter code 121028#.
Go to www.ajnonline.com and click on “Podcasts” and then
on “Conversations” to listen to our interview with the authors.
the frequency of tachycardic
episodes? Without this spirit of
inquiry, the next steps in the EBP
process are not likely to happen.
Step 1: Ask clinical questions
in PICOT format. Inquiries in this
format take into account patient
population of interest (P), inter-
vention or area of interest (I),
comparison intervention or group
(C), outcome (O), and time (T).
The PICOT format provides an
efficient framework for searching
electronic databases, one designed
to retrieve only those articles rel-
evant to the clinical question.
Using the case scenario on rapid
response teams as an example,
the way to frame a question about
whether use of such teams would
result in positive outcomes would
be: “In acute care hospitals
(patient population), how does
having a rapid response team
(intervention) compared with not
having a response team (compar-
ison) affect the number of car-
diac arrests (outcome) during a
three-month period (time)?
Step 2: Search for the best
evidence. The search for evidence
to inform clinical practice is tre-
mendously streamlined when
questions are asked in PICOT
format. If the nurse in the rapid
response scenario had simply
typed “What is the impact of
having a rapid response team?
into the search field of the data-
base, the result would have been
hundreds of abstracts, most of
them irrelevant. Using the PICOT
format helps to identify key words
or phrases that, when entered
successively and then combined,
validity centers on whether the
research methods are rigorous
enough to render findings as
close to the truth as possible.
For example, did the re-
searchers randomly assign
subjects to treatment or con-
trol groups and ensure that
they shared key characteristics
prior to treatment? Were valid
and reliable instruments used
to measure key outcomes?
What are the results and are
they important? For interven-
tion studies, this question of
study reliability addresses
whether the intervention
worked, its impact on out-
comes, and the likelihood of
obtaining similar results in the
clinicians’ own practice set-
tings. For qualitative studies,
this includes assessing whether
the research approach fits the
purpose of the study, along
with evaluating other aspects
of the research such as wheth-
er the results can be confirmed.
Will the results help me care
for my patients? This question
of study applicability covers
clinical considerations such as
whether subjects in the study
are similar to ones own pa-
tients, whether benefits out-
weigh risks, feasibility and
cost-effectiveness, and patient
values and preferences.
After appraising each study, the
next step is to synthesize the stud-
ies to determine if they come to
similar conclusions, thus support-
ing an EBP decision or change.
Step 4: Integrate the evidence
with clinical expertise and pa-
tient preferences and values.
Research evidence alone is not
sufficient to justify a change in
practice. Clinical expertise, based
on patient assessments, laborato-
ry data, and data from outcomes
management programs, as well
as patients’ preferences and val-
ues are important components of
expedite the location of rele-
vant articles in massive research
databases such as MEDLINE or
CINAHL. For the PICOT ques-
tion on rapid response teams,
the first key phrase to be entered
into the database would be acute
care hospitals, a common subject
that will most likely result in thou-
sands of citations and abstracts.
The second term to be searched
would be rapid response team,
followed by cardiac arrests and
the remaining terms in the
PICOT question. The last step of
the search is to combine the
results of the searches for each
of the terms. This method nar-
rows the results to articles perti-
nent to the clinical question, often
resulting in fewer than 20. It also
helps to set limits on the final
search, such as “human subjects”
or “English, to eliminate animal
studies or articles in foreign lan-
guages.
Step 3: Critically appraise
the evidence. Once articles are
selected for review, they must be
rapidly appraised to determine
which are most relevant, valid,
reliable, and applicable to the clin-
ical question. These studies are the
“keeper studies. One reason cli-
nicians worry that they dont have
time to implement EBP is that
many have been taught a labori-
ous critiquing process, including
the use of numerous questions de-
signed to reveal every element of
a study. Rapid critical appraisal
uses three important questions to
evaluate a studys worth.
6-8
Are the results of the study
valid? This question of study
Research evidence alone is not sufficient to
justify a change in practice.
52 AJN
January 2010
Vol. 110, No. 1 ajnonline.com
which patients are most likely to
benefit. When results differ from
those reported in the research
literature, monitoring can help
determine why.
Step 6: Disseminate EBP re-
sults. Clinicians can achieve won-
derful outcomes for their patients
through EBP, but they often fail
to share their experiences with
colleagues and their own or other
health care organizations. This
leads to needless duplication of
effort, and perpetuates clinical
approaches that are not evidence
based. Among ways to dissemi-
nate successful initiatives are EBP
rounds in your institution, pres-
entations at local, regional, and
national conferences, and reports
in peer-reviewed journals, profes-
sional newsletters, and publica-
tions for general audiences.
When health care organiza-
tions adopt EBP as the standard
for clinical decision making, the
steps outlined in this article nat-
urally fall into place. The next
article in our series will feature a
staff nurse on a medical–surgical
unit who approached her hospi-
tal’s EBP mentor to learn how
to formulate a clinical question
about rapid response teams in
PICOT format.
B
ernadette Mazurek Melnyk is dean and
distinguished foundation professor of
n
ursing at Arizona State University in
P
hoenix, where Ellen Fineout-Overholt
is clinical professor and director of the
Center for the Advancement of Evidence-
B
ased Practice, Susan B. Stillwell is clinical
a
ssociate professor and program coordi-
nator of the Nurse Educator Evidence-
Based Practice Mentorship Program, and
K
athleen M. Williamson is associate direc-
t
or of the Center for the Advancement
of Evidence-Based Practice. Contact
author: Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk,
bernadette.melnyk@asu.edu.
REFERENCES
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(and its limitations) of the effective-
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myocardial infarction. Crit Care Nurs
Q 2008;31(2):161-72.
3.Shortell SM, et al. Improving patient
care by linking evidence-based medi-
cine and evidence-based management.
JAMA 2007;298(6):673-6.
4.Strout TD. Curiosity and reflective
thinking: renewal of the spirit. Indi-
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national; 2005.
5.Williams DO. Treatment delayed is
treatment denied. Circulation 2004;
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6.Giacomini MK, Cook DJ. Users’
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Are the results of the study valid?
Evidence-Based Medicine Working
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7.Giacomini MK, Cook DJ. Users’
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Qualitative research in health care B.
What are the results and how do they
help me care for my patients? Evidence-
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JAMA 2000;284(4):478-82.
8.Stevens KR. Critically appraising
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EBP. There is no magic formula
for how to weigh each of these
elements; implementation of EBP
is highly influenced by institution-
al and clinical variables. For ex-
ample, say there’s a strong body
of evidence showing reduced in-
cidence of depression in burn pa-
tients if they receive eight sessions
of cognitive-behavioral therapy
prior to hospital discharge. You
want your patients to have this
therapy and so do they. But budg-
et constraints at your hospital
prevent hiring a therapist to
offer the treatment. This resource
deficit hinders implementation
of EBP.
Step 5: Evaluate the out-
comes of the practice decisions
or changes based on evidence.
After implementing EBP, its im-
portant to monitor and evaluate
any changes in outcomes so that
positive effects can be supported
and negative ones remedied. Just
because an intervention was ef-
fective in a rigorously controlled
trial doesn’t mean it will work
exactly the same way in the clin-
ical setting. Monitoring the effect
of an EBP change on health care
quality and outcomes can help
clinicians spot flaws in implemen-
tation and identify more precisely
Case Scenario for EBP: Rapid Response Teams
Y
ou’re a staff nurse on a busy medicalsurgical unit. Over the past
three months, you’ve noticed that the patients on your unit seem to
have a higher acuity level than usual, with at least three cardiac arrests
per month, and of those patients who arrested, four died. Today, you
saw a report about a recently published study in Critical Care Medi-
cine on the use of rapid response teams to decrease rates of in-hospital
cardiac arrests and unplanned ICU admissions. The study found a sig-
nificant decrease in both outcomes after implementation of a rapid re-
sponse team led by physician assistants with specialized skills.
9
You’re
so impressed with these findings that you bring the report to your nurse
manager, believing that a rapid response team would be a great idea
for your hospital. The nurse manager is excited that you have come to
her with these findings and encourages you to search for more evidence
to support this practice and for research on whether rapid response
teams are valid and reliable.
ajn@wolterskluwer.com AJN
January 2010
Vol. 110, No. 1 53
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