Evid Based Nurs 1:36-37 doi:10.1136/ebn.1.2.36

Asking answerable questions

  1. Kate Flemming, MSc, RGN
  1. Centre for Evidence Based Nursing, Department of Health Studies, University of York, York, YO1 5DG, UK

      Nurses have had to deal with many changes in recent years, one of which is the increased expectation that they will keep their practice up to date by reading vast numbers of publications. This expectation and the pressures of maintaining continuing education requirements come alongside ever increasing workloads and diminishing study time.

      So what can be done to ease some of the pressure? Evidence-based nursing (EBN) offers at least some of the answers. In a nutshell, the aim of EBN is to make it easier to include current best evidence from research in clinical and healthcare decisions.

      What is EBN?

      EBN is a 5 stage process:

      • Information needs from practice are converted into focused, structured questions

      • The focused questions are used as a basis for literature searching in order to identify relevant external evidence from research

      • The research evidence is critically appraised for validity and generalisability

      • The best available evidence is used alongside clinical expertise and the patient's perspective to plan care

      • Performance is evaluated through a process of self reflection, audit, or peer assessment.

      The purpose of this paper is to work through stage 1: the formulation of structured, focused questions.

      The types of information needs that arise regularly from our clinical practice are those questions such as Why do we do it this way? or What's the best way of ....? for which neither you nor your colleagues have a ready answer. If you are able to go to the library, what strategies can you use to find answers to this type of question efficiently? How do you find good quality, relevant research without wading through hundreds of papers?

      Framing the question in a way which lends itself to searching while still reflecting the specific patient or service focus is an important stage to get right. That way, when you begin …

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