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Evidence-Based Practice for Nursing: What is Evidence-Based Practice?

About this Guide

This guide is intended to provide an introduction to and overview of Evidence-Based Nursing. While the guide is freely available to the public, some of the links to articles, journals, and books in this guide may only be available to students, faculty, staff, and other university affiliates at ECU. Please use the tabs above to navigate the guide's contents.

The 5 Steps of EBP

Evidence-based practice consists of five steps:

ASSESS the patient

ASK a searchable clinical question

ACQUIRE the best evidence to answer the question

APPRAISE the evidence

APPLY to the patient


Evidence-Based Practice, Step by Step

A collection of articles from American Journal of Nursing developed to give nurses the knowledge and skills they need to implement EBP consistently, one step at a time.

Evidence-Based Practice, Step by Step

What is Evidence-Based Nursing?

Evidence-Based Nursing is a form of Evidence-Based Practice, which is defined as the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values (Sackett et al. 1996).

Evidence-based practice venn diagram

Evidence-Based Nursing (EBN) has been defined many ways; Scott and McSherry (2009) reviewed and summarized the literature on EBN to create the following, composite definition: Evidence-based nursing is “an ongoing process by which evidence, nursing theory and the practitioners’ clinical expertise are critically evaluated and considered, in conjunction with patient involvement, to provide delivery of optimum nursing care for the individual” (p 1089). 

Not every action taken by a nurse needs to be an occasion to consult the best evidence of effectiveness, and in some cases, evidence of effectiveness for a particular care plan or practice may not exist. Rather than being a strict formula, EBN is an approach to practice that is intended to improve the safety and effectiveness of nursing care and practices.



Sackett, D. L., W. M. Rosenberg, J. A. Gray, R. B. Haynes, and W. S. Richardson. 1996. "Evidence Based Medicine: What it is and what it isn't." BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.) 312 (7023): 71-72.

Scott, K., & McSherry, R. (2009). Evidence-based nursing: Clarifying the concepts for nurses in practice. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 18(8), 1085-1095. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02588.x

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