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Evidence Based Practice for Allied Health Sciences: What is EBP?

What is EBP?

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an approach to health care wherein health professionals use the best evidence possible, i.e., the most appropriate information available, to make clinical decisions for individual patients (McKibbon, 1998).  The most widely accepted definition of evidence-based medicine is, "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research" (Sackett, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson, 1996, p. 71).  Clinical expertise and best evidence MUST be considered in the context of individual patient values and wishes.

EBP is the meeting of best research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values. The clinician should research the best evidence available and synthesize that with his or her own expertise and the client's values and expectations to determine the best course of action. 

"None of the three core elements can stand alone; they work in concert by using practitioner skills to develop a client-sensitive case plan that utilizes interventions with a history of effectiveness.  In the absence of relevant evidence, the other two elements are weighted more heavily, whereas in the presence of overwhelming evidence the best-evidence component might be weighted more heavily (Rubin & Bellamy, 2012, p. 7-8).

Evidence-based practice has five main steps:

5 steps to evidence based practice: assess, ask, acquire, appraise, and apply.


Hopp, L., & Rittenmeyer, L. (2012). Introduction to evidence-based practice: A practical guide for nursing. FA Davis.

McKibbon, K. A. (1998). Evidence-based practice. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association86(3), 396.

Richards, D., & Lawrence, A. (1995). Evidence based dentistry. British Dental Journal179(7), 270.

Rubin, A., & Bellamy, J. (2012). Practitioner's guide to using research for evidence-based practice. John Wiley & Sons.

Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., Gray, J. M., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't.

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This content was compiled by Jana Schellinger, Liaison Librarian to Brody School of Medicine.