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Evidence-Based Medicine: Overview

What is evidence-based medicine?

EBM is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. (Sackett DL, Straus SE, Richardson WS, et al.Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.).  Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) can also be referred to as Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) or Evidence-Based Research (EBR).

The steps in the EBM process should always begin and end with the patient.  It is a patient-centered care model and is typically initiated during clinical encounters with patients where questions about the effects of therapy, the utility of diagnostic tests, the prognosis of diseases, or the etiology (harm) of diseases arise.EBM Cycle:  Ask a clinical question, acquire the evidence, appraise the evidence, apply it to clinical practice, assess your results, and disseminate the results to others.

Image source:  Ellis Medical Library

Medical research is a structured method of measuring and evaluating outcomes of various procedures, practices, hypotheses, etc. If one discovers a significant, proven result that can be replicated by others, and this result is better than current/customary practice, the new findings may be incorporated into everyday practice and is then referred to as Evidence Based Practice (EBP).  The evidence is the result(s) and conclusion of the research. Medical practice is based on this evidence showing the effectiveness of a particular practice.

Is it Evidence-Based Research?

The original peer reviewed scholarly study or work was conducted by the author(s) using the scientific method of research.

It will usually contain the phrase, "the purpose of this study..."

The articles will contain the following sections:

  • Abstract, Purpose, Introduction, Summary (essential)
  • Literature Review (optional) 
  • Method/Design (essential)
  • Data (essential)
    • Tables
    • Graphs
    • Charts
  • Results (essential)
  • Discussion (essential)
  • Directions for Further Research (or similar)
  • Conclusion (essential)
  • References (essential)

A note about these types of studies:

  • Research may be one or the other, but an author may never use the words qualitative (behavior, feelings, etc.) or quantitative (counting, numbers, etc.) in the article, and
  • You may have to determine for yourself which type of study it is.

Check the links below for more comparisons:

Critical Appraisal Tools

Joanna Brigs Institute's critical appraisal tools assist in assessing the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers.