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Evidence Based Medicine Guide: What is EBM?

Information about, and resources for, evidence based medicine

EBM is...

"the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values." (Sackett, David L., et al., Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 2000. p. 1)

Things to remember

1) Processing information into high levels of evidence takes time, and there is no guarantee that evidence exists at all levels for a specific clinical question.

2) Start with the highest level of evidence available.  High-level resources build upon resources found in the lowere levels of the pyramid to provide concise and up to date information.

3) Preappraised resources have a strict filtering process to insure that only high-quality information is included.  Good resources will make their filtering processes readily available to users.

6S Model

6S model pyramid

Levels of Evidence

  • Systems - The highest level of evidence.  Computerized decision support systems integrate and summarize all the available relevant research evidence, updates as new evidence becomes available, and automatically links relevant information to a patient's electronic medical recod.  

  • Summaries - Includes clinical pathways or textbook summaries.  Summaries integrate evidence for specific clinical problems and regularly update as new evidence becomes available.

  • Synopses of Syntheses - Comprehensive summaries of all the research related to focused clinical questions.

  • Syntheses - Systematic reviews.

  • Synopses of Studies - Highly detailed summaries of original high-quality single studies.  Found in the evidence-based abstraction journals and are accompanied by commentaries that address the clinical applicability of a study's findings.

  • Studies - Original single studies.  Can be preappraised or nonappraised. 

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Iris Kovar-Gough
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Health Sciences Librarian

Abraham Wheeler

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