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Nursing Research Guide

Evidence Based Practice

Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to clinical decision-making within a health care organization. It integrates the best available scientific evidence with the best available experiential (patient and practitioner) evidence. EBP considers internal and external influences on practice and encourages critical thinking in the judicious application of such evidence to the care of individual patients, a patient population, or a system (Newhouse, Dearholt, Poe, Pugh, & White, 2007).



This video, produced by Idaho State University Library, presents a short introduction to evident-based practice. 

Dearholt, Sandra L., and Dang, Deborah. Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice : Models and Guidelines (2nd Edition).

PICOT Method

What is a PICOT Question?

The PICOT question format is a consistent "formula" for developing answerable, researchable questions. When you write a good one, it makes the rest of the process of finding and evaluating evidence much more straightforward.

The PICOT Method is a way to build a strong research question so that you can develop an effective strategy to find evidence before you search through an article database. Incorporate each of the following elements into your research question and reuse those elements as keywords when searching databases to generate highly relevant search results.


  • P:  Population/patient - age, gender, ethnicity, individuals with a certain disorder
  • I:  Intervention/indicator - exposure to a disease, risk behavior, prognostic factor
  • C: Comparison/control - could be a placebo or "business as usual" as in no disease, absence of risk factor
  • O: Outcome - risk of disease, accuracy of a diagnosis, rate of occurrence of adverse outcome
  • T:  Time - the time it takes for the intervention to achieve an outcome or how long participants are observed


Example of a PICOT Question:

What is the duration of recovery (O) for patients with total hip replacement (P) who developed a post-operative infection (I) as opposed to those who did not (C) within the first six weeks of recovery (T)?

Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews are essential to the practice of evidence-based nursing. Systematic reviews address a well-defined clinical question, use an explicit search strategy, evaluate retrieved studies using defined criteria, and formally synthesize results (Shojania & Bero, 2001) to provide best-practice recommendations applicable to clinical settings.

To limit PubMed search results to strictly find systematic reviews, click "Clinical Queries" on the PubMed homepage (under PubMed Tools, center column). Enter specific search terms relating to your population, intervention, comparison, and desired outcome. Correct spelling is necessary for accurate search results.

PubMed's "clinical query" search results will be displayed in three columns. The central column is for systematic reviews, and you can click See all (x) at the bottom of the column for complete result listings.

PubMed does not license full-text content. After identifying a target systematic review, use the WorldCat Local search feature on the Holy Names University Library homepage to determine if the University licenses full-text content for the publishing journal. If we do not, you can request the content from one of our partner libraries (please expect a 2-5 day turnaround). To find the systematic review in WorldCat, enter the major words from the article title and the last name of the first author listed.

Evidence-Based Practice Tutorials