What is evidence-based practice, and why is it important?

We can probably all agree that using some method for decision-making is better than simply making decisions at random, especially if the outcome of that decision-making has important consequences.

If you are truly doing something that hasn’t been done before, or for which information is not available to you, then you might just have to use a method such as the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle. If on the other hand information is available, either as in the experience of professionals, reports, books, or research papers, then it is probably in our interest to take heed of such information, what is also referred to as evidence.

The paper Evidence-Based Management – The Basic Principles is a great free resource, which as the name suggests, provides the basic principles of evidence-based practice.

“The basic idea of evidence-based practice is that good-quality decisions should be based on a combination of critical thinking and the best available evidence. Although all management practitioners use evidence in their decisions, many pay little attention to the quality of that evidence. The result is bad decisions based on unfounded beliefs, fads and ideas popularised by management gurus. The bottom line is bad decisions, poor outcomes, and limited understanding of why things go wrong. Evidence-based practice seeks to improve the way decisions are made. It is an approach to decision-making and day-to-day work practice that helps practitioners to critically evaluate the extent to which they can trust the evidence they have at hand. It also helps practitioners to identify, find and evaluate additional evidence relevant to their decisions.”Evidence-Based Management – The Basic Principles, CEBM – Center for Evidence-Based Management.

Evidence-based practice is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the best available evidence from multiple sources by

  1. Asking: translating a practical issue or problem into an answerable question
  2. Acquiring: systematically searching for and retrieving the evidence
  3. Appraising: critically judging the trustworthiness and relevance of the evidence
  4. Aggregating: weighing and pulling together the evidence
  5. Applying: incorporating the evidence into the decision-making process
  6. Assessing: evaluating the outcome of the decision taken

to increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome, Evidence-Based Management – The Basic Principles, CEBM – Center for Evidence-Based Management.