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Evidence Based Practice

Updated on February 9, 2017


Evidence based practices (EBP) are an important aspect of the nursing field and function to keep nurses up to date with the most recent discoveries in care. EBP allow nurses to provide the best care possible for their patients by educating them on the most relevant developments in the field. Though some resistance exists against EBP, it has become a common practice throughout health care. This scientific approach to care removes anecdotal experience in favor of a more objective approach to figuring out what is the most effective treatment possible in any given health care situation.

History and Application

Officially introduced in the 1990s EBP has roots dating back to 19th century Paris. Florence Nightingale, who is widely credited as being the founder of the modern nursing profession, used an early form of EBP during the Crimean War. Over the next century and a half, EBP’s definition expanded to encompass matters of clinical duty as well as the biological aspects of health care (Longton, 2014).

EBP was met with resistance as it evolved from Scientific Medicine. Even today, many in the health care field struggle to accept EBP because researchers do not work directly with patients and may not have a realistic grasp of how nursing works. Many direct care staff see EBP as a theoretical concept, and a way for researchers to intervene with the actions of those actually working with patients (Longton, 2014). However, the truth is that EBP is the very force that drives nursing practice. As Hain and Kear (2015) explain, EBP is the reason nurses do what they do to patients. Everything from catheter placement to cardiopulmonary resuscitation has guidelines that are based around scientific evidence all because someone, at some point, chose to research those topics.

An example of EBP in practice comes from Longton (2014) in which the author describes a time when estimated height and weight recordings were acceptable in nursing assessments. This was not seen as a problem until someone researched it and found that estimations between facilities could vary by as much as sixty pounds in weight and as much a seven inches in height. It had always been assumed that medical staff could estimate within a close enough approximation that any error would not matter, but with these reported differences in height and weight, things like medication dosages would need to be modified. Further research led to a change in standards and practices in which patients must have their actual weight and height measured.

With EBP now accepted as a mainstream part of the health care field, researchers have turned their attention toward ways to ensure that new generations of nurses are properly trained in this philosophy of practice. Hickman, Kelly, and Phillips (2014) report on an study of EVITEACH, a program designed to encourage nursing students to incorporate EBP into their nursing practice. Some evidence exists that such an approach is beneficial, but the study ultimately concluded that more research is needed to find proven ways that engage nursing student’s interests in EBP.


EBP has now been shown to be beneficial for nursing practice and has mainstream acceptance. Still, many people struggle to see the advantage of EBP and new nurses graduate college without having been properly trained in it. As such, it is important for researchers to find ways to educate the nursing workforce on the benefits of EBP and increase its acceptance rate as a nursing philosophy. By increasing the number of nurses interested in providing scientifically backed care, nursing as a field will become more capable of providing patients with the best care possible.


Hain D. J., & Kear, T. M. (2015). Using evidence-based practice to move beyond doing things the way we have always done them. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 42(1), 11-20.

Hickman, L. D., Kelly, H., Phillips, J. L. (2014). EVITEACH: A study exploring ways to optimise the uptake of evidence-based practice to undergraduate nurses. Nurse

Education in Practice, 14(6), 598-604 Longton, S. (2014). Utilizing evidence-based practice for patient safety. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 41(4), 343-344.


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