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Evidence-Based Practice: an Introduction

Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-Based Practice or EBP is an approach to clinical decision-making that takes into account 3 distinct areas:

  • The Clinical Experience of the practitioner
  • The best available Scientific Evidence 
  • The Values of the Patient 

What is EBP?

A short video that explains EBP

The P-I-C-O-T Method for Research Questions

The PICO(T) method is a common way that researchers frame the different aspects of their topic. As you think about your research question, it is useful to identify the various elements that will go into your exploration of the topic. Not every research question will have all 5 elements. The final T stands for Time, which may or may not be a factor depending upon the study you are undertaking.  A sample research question appear below, with the various elements identified. 

Preparing a Search Strategy for Your Project

When searching library databases, use keywords and short phrases only. Identify the most important aspects of your PICOT question and search those first. Some examples of good search strategies are listed below. 

  • antibacterial foam infection control hospital nurses
  • screen time attention problems children
  • hip fracture elderly physical therapy outcomes

In order to cover your topic thoroughly, you will need to do multiple searches in multiple databases. As you search, be sure you consider synonyms and alternate terms to describe your topic and try those in various combinations. Each time you switch up your terms you will find slightly different results. 

  • diet menopause bone density
  • nutrition menopause bone density
  • dietary needs menopause bone density

Where Do I Search for the Best Evidence?

The Library! Clinical research studies, published in reputable scholarly journals, are usually only findable through a library because the content is behind expensive paywalls. The UTC Library purchases and manages campus-wide access to thousands of online journals and databases using your UTCID and password so you can view and download a world of high quality scholarly content that would not be accessible to you just via Google and the open web  

The Library offers a multi-disciplinary search box on our home page called Quick Search. Quick Search can be an ideal place to start your research because it is very broad and covers all disciplines. This can be particularly useful for research topics that cross over between disciplines (for example a topic that touches on both nursing and psychology / counseling). In addition to being multi-disciplinary, Quick Search also includes all item formats in our collection, so there are books, films, dissertations, journal articles, music files and more included in your results. To narrow your search down to original research studies in scholarly journals, use the Articles filter and the Peer Reviewed filter. 

To dive more deeply into the literature of just one discipline, look for individual scholarly databases on our Research Guide pages. Research guides are listings of resources arranged by subject (for example Nursing, Education, Business, Literature, etc.) Each database listed on a Research Guide is a smaller, highly specialized search engine tailored to the literature of that particular discipline. 

To find full text articles using Google Scholar, visit our Databases page and scroll down the first screen. There you will see a listing for Google Scholar with UTC subscriptions enabled. Use this link to access Google Scholar and look for the UTC branded Get It @ UTC links in your results. Free full text even when it's usually behind a paywall for everyone else!

Looking for a Systematic Review?

A systematic review is a meticulous and thorough examination of all of the existing research studies on a particular topic. The review and analysis is conducted by experts and is considered the highest quality evidence to guide practitioners in making clinical care decisions. Sometimes you will find systematic reviews published in journals or databases. Pubmed is a great source for systematic reviews in the healthcare field. 

There are also specific databases devoted just to systematic reviews. Cochrane Library is a well known example. You can find Cochrane Library by visiting the Databases page and browsing under C for the title. When using Cochrane, keep your searches very simple; stick to the disease or condition or possibly the intervention you are researching. Entering complex PICOT research questions into Cochrane will not produce relevant results. 

Keeping Track

Many students find it useful to keep a log of where they searched and what they found. This helps you analyze and synthesize the clinical evidence out there on your topic. 

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