The Case for Evidence-based Nursing Practice


Evidence-based nursing practice (EBNP) is an approach to nursing practice that uses current best evidence to support clinical decision making. It supports nurses’ work with patients and prompts changes in nursing behaviour when evidence indicates that a change is required.

The evidence nurses use to support their practice comes from research and academic studies, measurements taken in their own practices, their clinical expertise and preferences expressed by patients.

The central idea behind EBNP is that the evidence should define best practice and nurses should strive to achieve best practice. To achieve best practice, nurses should abandon outdated interventions when they know there is a better approach.

There are three main benefits of taking this kind of approach to clinical practice, called the “Triple Aim”:

  • Patient care improves through using the latest techniques and approaches
  • Cost of healthcare reduces by focusing on the most effective treatments
  • The overall health of the population improves

The Institute of Medicine has the goal that 90% of clinical decisions will be evidence-based by 2020 – that’s decision making supported by accurate, timely and current information. This is supported by the International Council of Nurses which says that a nurse’s obligation to society is to provide care that is constantly reviewed, researched and validated.

All of this is supported by the evolution of nursing practice towards a culture of enquiry and a more scholarly approach than in the past. The American Association of Critical Care nurses says that nursing will have achieved a culture of enquiry once nurses:

  • Move away from rituals in practice
  • Expect to be questioning their practice
  • Regard change as the norm
  • Become reflective practitioners
  • Seek answers to their questions, can express a rationale for their practice and teach it to others

And what do nurses get out of it?

Evidence-based practice should enrich nursing clinical education and experience with current research. This will keep nurses abreast of developments and allow them to be the best nurses they can be. Nurses will gain the skills to search for, assess and apply literature to clinical situations. They can be confident that their practice is supported by the latest knowledge in the field, and can go into new jobs confident that that they are up-to-date and able to hit the ground running.

Elsevier whitepaper, Creating a Culture of Evidence-Based Nursing Practice – Why and How.
Based on a webinar presented by Lois Marshall, PhD, MSN, RN, Nurse Education Consultant, and sponsored by Elsevier