Subject Guides

Evidence Based Practice

A step by step guide to the evidence based practice process

Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

This guide is an introduction to Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

In this guide you will find: 

  • Definitions related to EBP
  • The steps to EBP
  • EBP related tutorials
  • EBP related resources

Defining EBP

What is Evidence? 

Evidence in the context of medical literature provides proof. It is created by experts or scholars in their area of research. The evidence produced in this research is transparent and reproducible. 

"Evidence-based research is the use of prior research in a systematic and transparent way to inform a new study so that it is answering questions that matter in a valid, efficient, and accessible manner."

Robinson, K. A., Brunnhuber, K., Ciliska, D., Juhl, C. B., Christensen, R., & Lund, H. (2021). Evidence-Based Research Series-Paper 1: What Evidence-Based Research is and why is it important? Journal of Clinical Epidemiology129, 151–157.

What is Evidence-Based Practice

"The integration of the best research evidence with our clinical expertise and our patient's unique values and circumstances" (Albarqouni et al, 2018)

The Purpose of EBP

Evidence based practice provides a structured guide to

  1. Assist the practitioner with a method to stay current with relevant medical treatment trends despite an overwhelming influx of research. 
  2. Inform the practitioner with the best available evidence to guide practice. 
  3. Promote an attitude of inquiry. 
  4. Substantiate clinical decision making in combination with clinical experience.
  5. Ensure the incorporation of patient values and circumstances. 

3 elements of EBP evidence, values & clinical experience

Image source:


The EBP Process


5 steps of EBP Ask, acquire, appraise, apply and assess

Image source:


  1. Identify knowledge gaps
  2. Differentiate between background & foreground questions (General vs. clinically specific)
  3. Develop an answerable & searchable question structured with the PICO format
  4. Determine PICO question domain (therapy/treatment, prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology, meaning)


  1. Understand the levels of evidence provided from various types of research.
  2. Differentiate between the sources of information (primary research/unfiltered vs. pre-appraised/filtered).
  3. Understand the difference between databases and how to navigate databases in the search for evidence. 
  4. Develop search strategies utilizing search terms/key words/controlled vocabularies, Boolean operators and search limiters. 


  1. Understand the anatomy of a scientific paper and identify the key components
  2. Critically appraise the validity, reliability & value of the evidence in relation to the clinical question (CASP)


  1. Synthesize the best available evidence with your clinical expertise and the patient's values


  1. Self-evaluation of the EBP process