Evidence-based practice is defined as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.”1
Evidence-based practice is also known as evidence-informed practice, evidence-based treatment, evidence-based healthcare and evidence-influenced practice.
Regardless of the name, evidence-based practice as it relates to a practitioner’s clinical decision making relies on the integration of three critical elements. These elements are:
- the current best available evidence
- the clinical expertise of the practitioner
- the patient’s values and expectations
Clinical decision making is a complex process that involves gathering and interpreting data from a number of sources and collaborating with the patient in order to choose a course of treatment. Evidence-based practice involves a practitioner considering the available research and other sources of information in addition to their clinical experience and the patient’s values during their clinical decision making process.
1Sackett, DL, et al, Evidence-based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t, BMJ,1996; 312: 71-2.