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Evidence Based Nursing


According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)

Evidence based practice (EBP) is the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care (Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000).

It is a problem solving approach to clinical practice and administrative issues that integrates:

  • A systematic search for and critical appraisal of the most relevant evidence to answer a burning clinical question
  • One's own clinical expertise
  • Patient preferences and values (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2014)

The EBP process is a method that allows the practitioner to assess research, clinical guidelines, and other information resources based on high quality findings and apply the results to practice.

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.Evidence-based practice. Retrieved from

Why is EBP Important?

You might be asking, "Why do I need to know how to develop EBP research skills?"
Here are a few reasons: 

  • Knowing how to find evidence (such as RCTs or Meta-Analyses) are likely to result in the desired patient outcome
  • Provides opportunities for nursing care to be more individualized
  • Allows nurses to stay up to date with latest developments

Youngblut, J. M., & Brooten, D. (2001). Evidence-based nursing practice: Why is it important? AACN Clinical Issues, 12(4), 468-476.

PICO Worksheet

Link to full size worksheet

Creating a Question

PICO describes the process of defining a problem and creating a clinical question, e.g., a good clinical question will include all :

P Patient population of interest   

I Intervention/issue of interest  

C Comparison of interest 

O Outcome of interest                

Sometimes, a fifth element, Time, is added to the process          

Example:How effective is glucosamine, compared to no treatment, in treating osteoarthritis in middle aged women?

P Patient population of interest and/or problem  =    Middle aged women with osteoarthritis
I Intervention/issue of interest  =                            Glucosamine
C Comparison of interest =                                    No treatment
O Outcome of interest =                                        Decreased pain from osteoarthritis

Identify the topics and terms from your question to search the literature 

Search Tip: Begin with a broader search by using only a couple of elements, such as P (population) and I (intervention). Based on your results, you can add in keywords that fit the other PICO(T) elements.