Nurses need to continue to advocate for evidence-based care. Anecdotal practices may be effective, and should be formally subjected to rigorous research. To be on par with other healthcare professionals (i.e., physicians, pharmacists etc) nurses will need to learn to discuss evidence and understand that their actual day to day practice is guided by established processes that optimize patient care. A strong tool available for nurses to better understand the strength of evidence is the Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice protocol. The American Nurses Association has provided links to the appraisal tool, however, there is a full text that provides greater detail.5 The appraisal tool is a good start for a nurse interested in evaluating evidence. However, the additional expert input will be needed to actually be able to rate published research.
The healthcare environment is changing, and the focus on evidence-based practice is being emphasized. In a 2011 report to Congress, the US Department of Health and Human Services calls for the development of a National Quality Strategy that will specifically use evidence-based results to improve “medicine, public health, and health care delivery”.6 Nurses can have a positive influence on setting a national standard as this endeavor is implemented.
Professional nursing requires an understanding of best practices as defined by replicated and strong evidence published in peer-reviewed journals. This article begins to define the responsibility and shows a tool to critically analyze evidence. There is a common pitfall to believe anything in print, however, keep a healthy skepticism, be objective, and always strive for the best outcomes for patients.
1. McDonald L. Florence Nightingale and the early origins of evidence-based nursing. Evid Based Nurs 2001;4:68-69 =
3. Public Broadcasting Service. Ask the Scientist.
4. Cox T. A nurses-statistician reanalyzes data from the Rosa therapeutic touch study. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9(1):58-64.
5. American Nurses Association, Nursing World. Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice.
6. Department of Health and Human Services. Report to Congress, National Strategy for Quality in Healthcare Improvement. March 2011.