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Conceptions of evidence, evidence-based medicine, evidence-based practice and their use in nursing: independent nurse prescribers’ views


Principal Lecturer
Canterbury Christ Church University College at Medway
Rowan Williams Court
30 Pembroke Court
Chatham Maritime
Kent ME4 4UF
Telephone: 01634 894 452


Aim.  The purpose of this study was to explore nurses’ conceptions of evidence and evidence-based practice, whether there are differences between evidence-based practice and evidence-based medicine and to identify the uptake of research evidence in the workplace.

Background.  The use and comprehension of the term ‘evidence-based practice’ in relation to nursing shows remarkable variation. Numerous definitions are provided, some tend to be closely related to the concept ‘evidence-based medicine’. Independent nurse prescribers need to be able to understand the concept of evidence-based practice to utilize and apply this concept in order to provide adequate medication management of their patients.

Method.  Data were generated by focus group interview and open question questionnaire and analysed by analytical abstraction.

Results.  Nurses offered a variety of views on the use and uptake of evidence in the workplace. Some nurses acknowledged that they did not read research papers but were aware that they used a lot of evidence in their practice. Nurses had difficulty differentiating evidence-based practice from evidence-based medicine.

Conclusions.  Nurses were familiar with the research process but not the canons of evidenced-based practice. The data generated indicate different levels of evidence are used by nurses. This may be a reflection of the level of intrigue of the nurses involved.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The education and training of independent nurse prescribers should include the exploration of evidence from randomized controlled trials and from naturalistic studies and their contribution to evidenced-based practice and evidence-based medicine. Both concepts need to be explored in relation to the medication management of patients.