What is evidence-based practice in the healthcare sector?

The traditional definition of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is the conscientious, explicit, and prudent use of current best evidence in making decisions about individual patient care. It combines personal clinical expertise with the best external clinical evidence from systematic research. EBP has evolved to incorporate the best research evidence, clinical expertise, the individual values and circumstances of the patient, and the characteristics of the health professional’s practice.

To ensure that future healthcare users receive such care, healthcare professionals must effectively incorporate EBP-related knowledge, skills, and attitudes into education programs. Evidence-Based Practice promotion necessitates a healthcare infrastructure that assists organizations in delivering EBP and an education system capable of helping healthcare professionals acquire EBP competencies. To that end, healthcare education programs must implement curricula that target these competencies effectively—programs like a post master’s DNP online program. The online Post-DNP Master’s program will train you in advanced policy, advocacy, leadership, and translational research skills, allowing you to influence healthcare innovation and improve your community’s patient and population health outcomes.

EBP knowledge can mean changing a policy that has been in place for decades. Revised guidelines addressing sudden infant death syndrome are an example of evidence-based practice in nursing care related to policy change (SIDS). Initially, babies were advised to sleep on their stomachs in case they were sick and choked while sleeping. However, recent SIDS research has recommended that the safest sleep position for babies is on their backs. Campaigns to encourage parents to sleep their babies on their backs have resulted in lower SIDS rates in many countries around the world. Front sleeping has also been linked to increased fevers, ear infections, and nasal congestion in infants. When it comes to SIDS, research has shown that side sleeping is just as dangerous as front sleeping.

Another example is when neutropenic patients were placed in strict isolation to protect them from developing potentially fatal infections. However, when the research findings were evaluated for the best evidence, it was discovered that strict isolation precautions did not result in better patient outcomes compared to proper handwashing procedures combined with standard precautions—and it appeared that we unnecessarily exposed patients to the adverse psychological effects caused by extreme isolation. Unfortunately, as clinicians, we occasionally adhere to antiquated policies or practices without questioning their relevance, accuracy, or the evidence that supports their continued use.

Integrating evidence-based practice into healthcare professionals’ daily practices can improve the practice environment and patient outcomes. Nurses must expand their knowledge base, standardize practice, and improve patient outcomes. To advance nursing science, improve training for future nurses, and improve patient outcomes, nursing students must be taught the importance of evidence-based knowledge and how to access, appraise, and apply it correctly as needed.

Many non-EBP practices continue despite a lack of solid research to support them. Many such interventions and protocols, based on tradition rather than evidence, are ineffective and actively harmful. EBP provides an alternative to rising costs, subpar care, and unsatisfactory outcomes. Making better decisions that have the desired impact is what evidence-based practice is all about. An evidence-based decision-making approach is based on a combination of critical thinking and the best available evidence. It reduces decision-makers’ reliance on anecdotes, received wisdom, and personal experience – all of which are untrustworthy on their own.