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What is Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?

5 min readJune, 01 2023

Evidence-based practice in nursing involves providing holistic, quality care based on the most up-to-date research and knowledge rather than traditional methods, advice from colleagues, or personal beliefs. 

Nurses can expand their knowledge and improve their clinical practice experience by collecting, processing, and implementing research findings. Evidence-based practice focuses on what's at the heart of nursing — your patient. Learn what evidence-based practice in nursing is, why it's essential, and how to incorporate it into your daily patient care.

How to Use Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

Evidence-based practice requires you to review and assess the latest research. The knowledge gained from evidence-based research in nursing may indicate changing a standard nursing care policy in your practice Discuss your findings with your nurse manager and team before implementation. Once you've gained their support and ensured compliance with your facility's policies and procedures, merge nursing implementations based on this information with your patient's values to provide the most effective care. 

You may already be using evidence-based nursing practices without knowing it. Research findings support a significant percentage of nursing practices, and ongoing studies anticipate this will continue to increase.

Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing Examples

There are various examples of evidence-based practice in nursing, such as:

  • Use of oxygen to help with hypoxia and organ failure in patients with COPD 
  • Management of angina
  • Protocols regarding alarm fatigue
  • Recognition of a family member's influence on a patient's presentation of symptoms
  • Noninvasive measurement of blood pressure in children 

Improving patient care begins by asking how you can make it a safer, more compassionate, and personal experience. 

Learn about pertinent evidence-based practice information on our Clinical Practice Material page.

Five Steps to Implement Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

A young female nurse is seated at a desk, wearing a light blue scrub outfit and doing research using a laptop and taking notes.

Evidence-based nursing draws upon critical reasoning and judgment skills developed through experience and training. You can practice evidence-based nursing interventions by following five crucial steps that serve as guidelines for making patient care decisions. This process includes incorporating the best external evidence, your clinical expertise, and the patient's values and expectations.

  1. Ask a clear question about the patient's issue and determine an ultimate goal, such as improving a procedure to help their specific condition. 
  2. Acquire the best evidence by searching relevant clinical articles from legitimate sources.
  3. Appraise the resources gathered to determine if the information is valid, of optimal quality compared to the evidence levels, and relevant for the patient.
  4. Apply the evidence to clinical practice by making decisions based on your nursing expertise and the new information.
  5. Assess outcomes to determine if the treatment was effective and should be considered for other patients.

Analyzing Evidence-Based Research Levels

You can compare current professional and clinical practices with new research outcomes when evaluating evidence-based research. But how do you know what's considered the best information?

Use critical thinking skills and consider levels of evidence to establish the reliability of the information when you analyze evidence-based research. These levels can help you determine how much emphasis to place on a study, report, or clinical practice guideline when making decisions about patient care.

The Levels of Evidence-Based Practice

Four primary levels of evidence come into play when you're making clinical decisions.

  1. Level A acquires evidence from randomized, controlled trials and is considered the most reliable.
  2. Level B evidence is obtained from quality-designed control trials without randomization.
  3. Level C typically gets implemented when there is limited information about a condition and acquires evidence from a consensus viewpoint or expert opinion.
  4. Level ML (multi-level) is usually applied to complex cases and gets its evidence from more than one of the other levels.

Why Is Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing Essential?

Three people are standing in a hospital corridor, a male nurse and two female nurses, and they are all looking intently at some information that one of the nurses is holding in her hands.

Implementing evidence-based practice in nursing bridges the theory-to-practice gap and delivers innovative patient care using the most current health care findings. The topic of evidence-based practice will likely come up throughout your nursing career. Its origins trace back to Florence Nightingale. This iconic founder of modern nursing gathered data and conclusions regarding the relationship between unsanitary conditions and failing health. Its application remains essential today.

Other Benefits of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

Besides keeping health care practices relevant and current, evidence-based practice in nursing offers a range of other benefits to you and your patients:

  • Promotes positive patient outcomes
  • Reduces health care costs by preventing complications 
  • Contributes to the growth of the science of nursing
  • Allows for incorporation of new technologies into health care practice
  • Increases nurse autonomy and confidence in decision-making
  • Ensures relevancy of nursing practice with new interventions and care protocols 
  • Provides scientifically supported research to help make well-informed decisions
  • Fosters shared decision-making with patients in care planning
  • Enhances critical thinking 
  • Encourages lifelong learning

When you use the principles of evidence-based practice in nursing to make decisions about your patient's care, it results in better outcomes, higher satisfaction, and reduced costs. Implementing this method promotes lifelong learning and lets you strive for continuous quality improvement in your clinical care and nursing practice to achieve nursing excellence.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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