Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a process used to review, analyze, and incorporate the most current research-based evidence in patient care decisions. EBP is a patient-centered problem-solving approach to clinical practice and administrative issues that integrates:
- a systematic search for and critical appraisal of the most relevant evidence to answer a clinical question
- one's own clinical expertise
- patient preferences and values
The EBP process allows practitioners to evaluate research, clinical guidelines, and other information resources based on quality findings, and apply the results to practice. Many healthcare organizations are encouraging – or even mandating – nurses to use EBP in their patient care in order to improve patient safety, streamline care delivery, increase efficiency and lower costs.
Why should healthcare organizations use EBP?
Experience shows that EBP benefits healthcare systems by producing better patient outcomes and reducing costs. EBP has been shown to be effective in the following ways:
- leads to the highest quality care and patient outcomes
- reduces healthcare costs
- reduces variability of care
- increases healthcare provider empowerment and role satisfaction
- reduces healthcare provider turnover rates
- increases reimbursement from third-party payers
- reduces complications and payment denials
- meets the expectation of an informed public
What are the barriers to EBP in nursing?
Barriers to effective implementation of evidence-based practice in nursing include time factors and an organizational culture that does not support or value EBP. A significant obstacle often cited is the intimidation that nurses may feel because of their limited access to knowledgeable mentors, resources, and tools needed to successfully use EBP.
Studies have found that while a majority of nurses have expressed a positive attitude toward EBP, some have pointed out workplace resistance, the lack of education on how to use research in practice, and the shortage of mentors at the bedside who help them implement the practice consistently. EBP effectively integrated into an institution's nursing culture will lead to improved patient care and possibly promote increased job satisfaction.
Embedding EBP in the culture
The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet® Recognition Program and Pathway to Excellence Program require hospitals to have evidence-based practice embedded in the culture of the organization. To be recognized as a Magnet and Pathway designated hospital, facilities must demonstrate that nurses evaluate and use published research in all aspects of clinical and operational processes.
The ANCC also expects nurses to conduct research projects and share the knowledge from these projects with nurses within and outside the organization.
To encourage greater use of EBP, hospitals should support nurse staff with the appropriate clinical practice tools and resources needed to make evidence-informed practice decisions, develop a comprehensive strategy for building competencies through proper training, and promote a culture of life-long, self-directed learning.
Hospital libraries can also play an active role in developing adequate information literacy skills among nurses. Librarians should be part of the ongoing training for clinical nurses in searching the evidence, especially in hospitals promoting EBP or seeking Magnet or Pathway status.
Learn how Lippincott Solutions can support evidence-based practice in nursing.