Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences.2 This definition of EBPP closely parallels the definition of evidence-based practice adopted by the Institute of Medicine (2001, p. 147) as adapted from Sackett and colleagues (2000): "Evidence-based practice is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values." The purpose of EBPP is to promote effective psychological practice and enhance public health by applying empirically supported principles of psychological assessment, case formulation, therapeutic relationship, and intervention.
Evidence based practice involves 5 steps:
1. Ask a focused question to satisfy the health needs of a specific patient
2. Find the best evidence by searching the literature
3. Critically appraise the literature: testing for validity, clinical relevance, and applicability
4. Apply the results in clinical practice
5. Evaluate the outcomes in your patient
Adapted from: the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and Sackett DL, Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996 Jan 13;312(7023):71-2.
Breaking up your question into these 4 elements (which you can easily remember with the mnemonic device PICO) will make your literature search process easier:
Use the links below to search using the PICO method.
What type of question are you asking and which would be best to support the evidence?
|Type of Question||Type of Study/Methodology to Look at|
Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial; Systematic Review/Meta Analysis of RCT
|Diagnosis||Controlled Trial; Systematic Review/Meta Analysis of Controlled Trial|
|Prognosis||Cohort Studies; Case control, case studies|
|Prevention||Randomized Controlled Trial; Cohort studies|
|Quality Improvement||Randomized Controlled Trial|
|Quality of Life||Qualitative Study|
|Cost Effectiveness||Economic Evaluation|
|Clinical Exam||Prospective, blind comparison to gold standard|
The Evidence Pyramid is often used to illustrate the development of evidence. At the base of the pyramid is animal research and laboratory studies - this is where ideas are first developed. As you progress up the pyramid the amount of information available decreases in volume, but increases in relevance to the clinical setting.
|Type of Study||Where to Find it|
|Systematic Reviews or Meta-analysis||Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE|
|Critically-Appraised Topics||DynaMed, UpToDate|
|Critically-Appraised Articles||ACP Journal Club|
|Randomized Controlled Trials||Original articles (search MEDLINE, EMBASE)|
|Cohort Studies||Original articles (search MEDLINE, EMBASE)|
|Case-Controlled Studies etc.||Original articles (search MEDLINE, EMBASE)|
|Background Info/Expert Opinion||Books, editorials|
Adapted from Study Designs. In NICHSR Introduction to Health Services Research: a Self-Study Course. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/ihcm/06studies/studies03.html and Glossary of EBM Terms. http://www.cebm.utoronto.ca/glossary/index.htm#top
"An empirical article is a research article that reports the results of a study that uses data derived from actual observation or experimentation."
To identify an article based on empirical research, look for the following characteristics:
From the PsycARTICLES Database advanced search page:
From the PsycINFO Database advanced search page:
(Refereed, Peer-Reviewed) Journal Articles
(Popular) Journal Articles
Scholarly articles are "peer-reviewed" by other experts in the field. Are also sometimes called "refereed articles."
|Non-scholarly articles are meant to inform or entertain readers rather than provide in-depth analysis.|
|Content||Content of articles usually reports on original research or experimentation.||Content of articles often reports on other research or events rather than presenting original research.|
|Bibliography||Articles usually list references in footnotes or endnotes.||Articles are seldom footnoted and the source of information is seldom given.|
|Illustrations||Illustrations, if any, are usually graphs and charts that support the subject content.||Often are illustrated with glossy or color photographs.|
|Author(s)||Articles are written by experts in the field.||Authors are usually on the staff of the magazine or are freelance writers. Author's name is often not supplied|
|Length/Depth||Articles are generally long and contain in-depth coverage of the topic.||Articles are often short and intended to provide an overview of a topic rather than an in-depth analysis.|
|Advertising||Contain few if any advertisements.||Usually contain many advertisements.|
|Publisher||Frequently, articles are published by a scholarly professional organization (e.g. American Chemical Society, American Psychological Association).||Publishers are marketing to the general public and usually make their publications available in stores and newsstands.|
|Language||Authors write in the language of their discipline. Readers are assumed to have some knowledge of the field.||Articles are directed towards the general public and written in non-technical language.|
Access tools help locate primary and secondary sources. Some types of access tools are:
|Subject Guides||Online Catalogs|
|Subject Directories||Search Engines|
There are three types of sources used in research: Primary, Secondary and Access Tools.
A primary source is a firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. Primary sources are written or created during the time period being studied, or by a person directly involved in the event. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event or time period. Some types of primary sources are:
|Original Documents||Creative Works||Artifacts|
|Meeting Minutes||Visual Art||Clothing|
|Research Data||Performing Arts||Furniture|
A Secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. Secondary sources are one step removed from the primary sources. Some types of secondary sources are: