Evidence for nursing practice: a clarification of the issues
There has been considerable confusion and unease within the nursing profession about the emphatic push for all healthcare to be ‘evidence-based’. In particular, there has been anxiety that the emphasis on evidence ignores practitioners’ skills and individual patient preferences. This paper attempts to clarify the main issues surrounding evidence-based nursing. These include its epidemiological origins and purpose, the meaning and limits of ‘evidence’, the need for individual skills and expertise in the use of evidence, and the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of evidence. It aims to debunk the misconception that randomized controlled trials are synonymous with evidence, and to increase critical awareness of the nature of evidence in nursing.