Evidence Based Practice

Evidence-based healthcare is “a systematic process of using research to support clinical reasoning and practice decisions" (Crepeau, Cohn, & Schell, 2003). Current best evidence is up-to-date information from relevant, valid research about the effects of different forms of healthcare, the potential for harm from exposure to particular agents, the accuracy of diagnostic tests, and the predictive power of prognostic factors.

Evidence based practice (EBP) is the application of such principles across the broad field of healthcare, including education, practice management and health economics. EBP also, considers the therapist's expertise, experience and the client's values.

Many people assumed that medicine, including occupational therapy, was already "evidence based" making logical decisions of diagnosis and treatment using scientific methods. However, OT practice was based on individual therapist’s decisions utilizing educated guesses based on the experience of the OT and influenced by the geographical area and healthcare climate of the time. Unusual problems were discussed with other OTs to determine what was best to do.

Evidence-based practice aims to move beyond anecdotal clinical experience by bridging the gap between research and the practice of medicine. The aim is to use diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions that are as accurate, as safe and as efficacious as possible. It should provide a rigorous examination of the outcomes of different clinical actions.

Occupational therapists and students should utilize evidence based practice to guide clinical decision making for determining most appropriate interventions for clients. We owe it to them to attempt to obtain the best outcomes possible.

Evidence based practice involves the following:

  • Clarifying your research question and uniqueness of your client case
  • Examining existing research via extensive literature reviews
  • Critiquing existing research to determine what is known and unknown
  • Synthesizing the results to guide the decision making process for clients

To learn more about evidence based practice, visit the following sites.

To obtain a list of articles published in OT journals about evidence based practice visit the AOTF website.

This website describes evidence based practice and connects you to a vast number of databanks to conduct searches. It also provides vocabulary terms and definitions related to research at the end.
Very useful site: Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

Crepeau, E., Cohn, E., & Schell B. (2003). Willard & Spackman's Occupational Therapy. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.