Evidence-based nursing (EBN) practice helps professional nurses make informed decisions by learning from what others in the field have researched. EBN practice bases clinical and healthcare decisions on carefully considered research, clinical experience and clinical content rather than relying on time-honored but unproven practices. When studying EBN, students will use critical thinking to investigate a number of topics including issues in clinical practice, health care within the medical facility and in the community, patient education and technology.
Pre-surgical practices such as assessing gastric residual volume and aspiration risk are clinical nursing practices that benefit from EBN. Post-surgical practices such as encouraging deep breathing and coughing, facilitating patient ambulation and helping with pain management can also be studied with an eye to EBN practice. Infection-preventing nursing interventions are clinical practices where EBN is important. Areas of concern include urinary catheter-associated infections, oral and gastrointestinal infections and obstetric and gynecologic infections. Clinical assessment is another area that benefits from current research in EBN. This includes evaluation for disorders of the ear, nose, and throat, breathing and lung systems, heart and vascular system, kidneys and urological systems, endocrine systems, musculoskeletal structures, and nerve and brain systems.
The field of community health care includes many issues that can be studied with an emphasis on EBN. These include bioterrorism, quality improvement in health care and patient safety. Within the medical facility there are issues where EBN is a significant concept. These can include restriction of visiting policies, use of cell phones in critical care areas and using evidence to improve safety. Evidence-based nursing practice will have an impact within the institution, too, affecting financial and economic concerns, organizational and team culture, quality management, skills training programs, and personnel evaluation processes.
Evidence-based patient education helps nurses provide unbiased, comprehensive information to support patients’ decisions. Topics of concern include how to create patient-friendly printed materials, educating patients in effective internet searching, providing them with reliable web links, helping them learn effective technical vocabulary, and helping them learn to ask questions and express themselves effectively with regard to their own health. EBN takes patients’ expectations and personal values into consideration while making clinical decisions, so nurses will want to investigate religious, cultural and familial issues that may have an impact on patients’ decisions.
The study of EBN requires computer literacy and an appreciation of the speed of online publication. Topics involving information technology, creating effective search strategies and evaluation of source material are critical to nurses’ success in EBN. Databases such as PubMed, CINAHL and BioMed Central can be studied and evaluated for usefulness to the nursing profession. Medical professionals can exhibit a resistance technology thinking that it distracts them from patient care. Methods for integrating a humanistic, caring client/patient approach while making effective use of informatics infrastructure is an important issue and can be shown to improve patient-centered communication and enhance empathy.