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Why Is Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing so Important?


Registered nurses (RN) deliver care to patients by applying validated interventions. In a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, nurses learn about evidence-based practice (EBP), which aids them in pinpointing care strategies that can help their patients. In recent decades, EBP has become a key component of exceptional patient care.

What Is EBP in Nursing?

EBP in nursing is an integration of research evidence, clinical expertise and a patient's preferences. This problem-solving approach to clinical practice encourages nurses to provide individualized patient care.

How Is EBP Incorporated in Nursing?

EBP helps nurses determine an effective course of action for care delivery. EBP involves the following five steps:

  1. Form a clinical question to identify a problem.
  2. Gather the best evidence.
  3. Analyze the evidence.
  4. Apply the evidence to clinical practice.
  5. Assess the result.

What Kind Of Research Is Used in EBP?

Research utilized in EBP falls into four categories. They are:

  1. Randomized controlled trials.
  2. Evidence gathered from cohort, case-control analysis or observational studies.
  3. Opinions from clinical experts that are supported by experiences, studies or reports from committees.
  4. Personal experience.

The above four categories are listed in descending order from most credible to less reliable.

How Does EBP Benefit Nurses and Patients?

The inclusion of EBP in nursing provides nurses with the scientific research to make well-founded decisions. Through EBP, nurses can stay updated about new medical protocols for patient care. By searching for documented interventions that fit the profiles of their patients, nurses can increase their patients' chances for recovery.

EBP enables nurses to evaluate research so they understand the risks or effectiveness of a diagnostic test or treatments. The application of EBP enables nurses to include patients in their care plan. This allows patients to have a proactive role in their own healthcare since they can voice concerns, share their values and preferences and make suggestions on how they want to proceed.

What Is the Advantage of EBP for Healthcare Organizations?

With the application of EBP comes better patient outcomes, which can decrease the demand for healthcare resources. Thus, healthcare organizations can reduce expenses. For example, outdated practices may have included supplies, equipment or products that are no longer necessary for certain procedures or techniques.

What Is the History of EBP?

Florence Nightingale was credited with improving patient care in the 1800s when she noted that unsanitary conditions and restricted ventilation could adversely affect the health of patients. She went on to record medical statistics using patient demographics to ascertain the number of deaths in hospitals and the mortality rate connected to different illnesses and injuries.

Archie Cochrane introduced the concept of applying randomized controlled trials (RTC) and other types of research to the nursing practice in 1972. Before Cochrane's contribution to healthcare, medical care centered on unfounded assumptions without consideration for the individual patient. Cochrane proposed that healthcare systems have limited resources so they should only use treatments that are proven to be effective. He believed that RTCs were the most verified form of evidence and his assertion created the foundation for the EBP movement.

In 1996 David Sackett introduced the term evidence-based medicine along with a definition that is still widely used today. Unlike Cochrane, Sackett felt that EBP should not only focus on research but should merge evidence, clinical experience and patient values. As other healthcare professions began adopting Sackett's concept for patient care, it was renamed evidenced-based practice.

EBP is an essential component of safe, quality patient care. Nurses must be aware of current practices in order to provide care to patients with complicated and debilitating conditions.

Nursing students in an RN to BSN program learn the role of research in the nursing practice. These programs cover the design, methodologies, process and ethical principles of research. In addition, nursing students use critical thinking skills to evaluate and critique research studies in order to apply the findings to their nursing practice.

Learn more about the EIU online RN to BSN program.

Sources: A Brief History of Evidence-Based Practice

NCBI: Evidence-Based Medicine and Hospital Reform: Tracing Origins Back to Florence Nightingale

The Nest: What Are The Benefits of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?

American Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses: Evidence-Based Practice

Health Catalyst: 5 Reasons the Practice of Evidence-Based Medicine Is a Hot Topic

Wolters Kluwer: Keeping Up with the Times: The Importance of Evidence-Based Practice

ResearchGate: The History of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing Education and Practice

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: The Impact of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and the Next Big Ideas

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