Applying evidence: what’s the next action?
- Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine; University of Oxford; Oxford, UK
Every fortnight my practice group gathers for an early morning “journal club” where we discuss a paper that we think could change our practice. A large pot of tea, an informal atmosphere, and lively discussions have made the sessions popular. But our interest is not the entertainment of pulling apart papers or curiosity about pathophysiology: our central interest is in clinical practice improvement. As in other journal clubs, we critically appraise the paper, calculate the number needed to treat (NNT), and decide on the clinical bottom line. But most journal clubs end there, assuming that everyone will implement the change. But, as we’ve repeatedly experienced, that assumption is often false.1 So following the traditional evidence-based practice steps, we ask, “So what is the next action?”2
The “next action” can be a variety of things. Sometimes the next action is garnering some additional information through another search, writing to the authors, or writing to a local expert. It doesn’t need to be a whole implementation plan, just the next physical action and who is responsible for it.2 For example, at a recent journal club, we discussed measuring blood pressure in both arms. A useful systematic review3 of blood pressure differences between arms made us …