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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

It’s in the Evidence

Published December 5, 2008 2:37 PM by Trudy Schreiner

I recently interviewed a nurse for an article I was writing for ADVANCE for Nurses and he mentioned evidence-based practices (EBPs) were a foundation for their patient care protocols.

When I asked if he could share a recent example, he was at a loss to name anything specific at the time. It could be the question was unexpected; therefore, he wasn't prepared to mention a specific protocol.  

I don't doubt the facility where he works implements EBP patient care protocols, but it got me wondering if other nurses could name a specific patient-care practice if asked.

EBP is a current buzz word often used by healthcare professionals, but how many nurses actually know which protocols they use are based on current evidence? It seems the perception is that the term "EBP" says it all, there is no other information required.

Since then, I've implemented an unofficial, nonscientific survey and asked several nurses the question about a specific example of EBP utilized at their facilities. I found most staff nurses couldn't respond with a specific example. But the nurse leaders I asked about EBP could talk about at least one example.

Maybe it's the daily business of caring for patients that prevents some staff nurses from absorbing more than ‘this is how we do this procedure now,' and the reasons, or evidence, may be secondary to just getting it done.

And, you may ask, "What does it matter if I know about the evidence, so long as I'm providing the patients the best quality care?"

Today, healthcare is as much about change as it is about healthcare. And it's also about knowing when something needs to change for providing quality care to continue. As a stakeholder in providing that care, keeping up with the evidence can allow nurses to feel confident they are offering the highest quality of care.  

Research also can provide you with the support for initiating change in your work environment. Does the facility where you work have a procedure in place to review new evidence and propose changes to existing policies and procedures?

How will you respond if asked by someone to describe an example of evidence-based practice at your facility?

posted by Trudy Schreiner


Many nurses have never preformed research or studied research analysis before entering their field of practice.As a result,it is difficult to buy into the concept of evidence based practice while trying to accomplish all the daily tasks required by the employer.

Perhaps the results of "good" research studies should be brought directly to the nurse at work by her/his immediate supervisor. A month later the supervisor should re-group to discuss how the study applies to th workplace. This assists nurses in seeing the value of evidence based practice.

Melinda Silverberg, Care Management - Nurse Case Manager, Insurance February 3, 2009 11:41 AM
Livingston NJ

Thank you, Lorettajo. I appreciate your insightfulness.  

Trudy Schreiner December 23, 2008 2:58 PM

I have found that being a part of committee has allowed me to understand EBP protocols better.  As part of the Pediatric Council of the hospital I work in, many decisions regarding care are implemented based on the research presented at these meetings.  

Educating the staff on policy/procedure changes does not always refer to said research.  Maybe if policy changes were accompanied with references, staff nurses would be able to better verbalize why they do something.  In turn, I think more nurses would be better able to accept change.

Lorettajo Kapinos December 18, 2008 10:11 AM
Springfield MA

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