5 Steps in Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

What is Evidence Based Practice in Nursing?

Evidence-based practice is “the use of the best scientific evidence, integrated with clinical experience and incorporating patient values and preferences in the practice of professional nursing care (Houser, 2015, p. 12). In your RN-BSN program you can expect to take at least one course that focuses on nursing research and evidence-based practice. In your future professional nursing practice, it will be expected that you can locate, read, and apply evidence, and consider that you will also be called upon to participate in research at some point in your career.

5 Steps in the EBP Nursing Cycle

There are five steps in the evidence based practice (EBP) nursing cycle: ask, acquire, appraise, apply, assess (Cleveland Clinic, 2017). As you consider a patient scenario, begin by formulating a clinical question. Ask: What problem or concern do you have for your patient?

EBP Cycle: Acquire Evidence

In step 2, you will begin to search for evidence to answer your question. Perhaps you are seeking evidence to determine if music therapy is as effective in helping to relieve pain for a patient after a minor surgical procedure, as compared to medication? In step 2 you will seek out scholarly literature to explore this evidence. This literature may be found in nursing journals, as well as medical and other health care related ones.

EBP Cycle: Appraise & Apply the Evidence 

To appraise the evidence you will need to critically review the articles you have found for validity and applicability (Cleveland Clinic, 2017). If for example your patients are older adults, evidence that examines the effectiveness of music therapy for adolescents may not be applicable for your patient because adolescents and older adults have different responses to pain and different needs for pain control. Also appraise the source of the evidence; think back to your nursing research course to help guide you in completing this appraisal to assure that what you are reading can be trusted. Once you locate applicable evidence you may be ready to apply it, in the form of implementing the findings with your patient.

EBP Cycle: Assess the Evidence

The final step in the process will be to assess whether or not your intervention was effective. In the patient example here you would be assessing the patient to determine if his pain was controlled with the use of music therapy. You might compare the responses of two patients, one who received only music therapy and the other who received music therapy along with pain medication.

Let your search for evidence inspire you to be an even better nurse. Do not think of this as busy work or something you can leave for others to do. Think of evidence-based practice as your commitment to being a patient advocate and health care provider who is contributing to the advancement of the profession of nursing, while respecting a patient’s values and preferences. This is not problem solving, it is an avenue to improve patient outcomes and provide quality care to your patients.

Learn More

To expand your nursing knowledge and learn more about evidence-based practice enroll in Widener University’s online RN-BSN program. Call 844-386-7321 to speak with a program manager or request more information to get started today.

About the Author

Dr. Nancy Laplante is an Associate Professor of Nursing. She is the Coordinator of the RN/BSN & RN/MSN program options and the Director of Online Programs for the School of Nursing. She earned her MSN degree in 2004 with a focus in community health nursing, and a PhD in Nursing in 2007. Dr. Laplante is a board certified advanced holistic nurse, and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Holistic Nursing.

She believes that compassion and caring are essential components of nursing education, and she strives to engage students in respectful, meaningful dialogue. She is a regular contributor to fundamental nursing textbooks and has published in the areas of holistic nursing education, educational perspectives, healthcare applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), and Service-Learning. Additional research interests include the image of nursing, creating presence in online learning communities, and self-care practices for nursing students. In her spare time Dr. Laplante enjoys spending time with her family and being a volunteer for a local animal rescue to support pet adoption and education in the community.


Cleveland Clinic (2017). Evidence-Based Practice: Nursing: What is EBP? Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.libguides.com/nursingebp.

Houser, J. (2015). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence ed. 3. Jones & Bartlett: MA.