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Purpose and procedure

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The general purpose of Evidence-Based Nursing is to select from the health-related literature* those articles reporting studies and reviews that warrant immediate attention by nurses attempting to keep pace with important advances in their profession. These articles are described, critiqued and commented on by nurses and other health professionals. The specific purposes of Evidence-Based Nursing are:

  • to identify, using predefined criteria, the best quantitative and qualitative original and review articles on the meaning, cause, course, assessment, prevention, treatment, or economics of health problems managed by nurses and on quality improvement

  • to provide a description and expert commentary on the context of each article, its methods, and the clinical applications that its findings warrant

  • to disseminate the summaries in a timely fashion to nurses

The RCN Publishing Company Limited and the BMJ Publishing Group publish Evidence-Based Nursing.

Criteria for selection and review of articles for abstracting

All articles in a journal issue are considered for inclusion if, based on their abstracts, they meet the following basic and category-specific criteria:

Basic criteria

  • original or review articles

  • in English

  • quantitative and qualitative studies

  • about topics that are important to the clinical practice of nurses in any setting

  • analysis of data consistent with the study question

Category-specific criteria (quantitative studies)

Studies of prevention or treatment must also include:

  • random allocation of participants to comparison groups

  • outcome measures of known or probable clinical importance

Studies of assessment (screening or diagnosis) must also include:

  • a spectrum of participants, some (but not all) of whom have the condition of interest

  • an objective diagnostic (gold) standard (eg, central venous pressure) or current clinical standard for diagnosis (eg, sphygmomanometer reading for hypertension), preferably with documentation of reproducible criteria for subjectively interpreted diagnostic standard (ie, report of statistically significant measure of agreement beyond chance among observers)

Studies of prognosis must also include:

  • an inception cohort (first onset or assembled at a uniform point in the development of a condition or disease) of individuals, all initially free of the outcome of interest

Studies of causation must also include:

  • observations of the relation between modifiable exposures and putative clinical outcomes

  • clearly identified comparison group(s) for those at risk of, or having, the outcome of interest (ie, randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, cohort studies with case by case matching or statistical adjustment to create comparable groups, or nested case–control studies) and preferably prospective data collection

Studies of quality improvement or continuing education must also include:

  • random allocation of participants or units to comparison groups

  • outcome measures of known or probable clinical importance

Studies of the economics of healthcare interventions must include:

  • an economic question comparing alternative courses of action

  • comparison of alternative diagnostic or therapeutic services or quality improvement activities on the basis of both the outcomes produced (effectiveness) and resources consumed (costs)

  • evidence of effectiveness from a study (or studies) of real (not hypothetical) patients, which meet(s) the criteria for treatment, assessment, quality improvement, or a systematic review article

  • results presented in terms of the incremental or additional costs and outcomes of one intervention over another

Clinical prediction guides must also include:

  • generation of the guide in ≥1 set of patients (training or derivation set)

  • validation of the guide in an independent set of patients (test or validation set)

Systematic review articles must also include:

  • a clear statement of the clinical topic being reviewed

  • a clear description of the sources and methods for identifying articles

  • specification of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for selecting articles for detailed review

  • ≥1 article in the review that meets the above noted criteria for treatment, assessment, prognosis, causation, quality improvement, economics, or clinical prediction guides

Qualitative studies

  • content reflects the phenomenon of interest from the perspective of people experiencing it

  • data collection methods are appropriate for qualitative data

  • analyses are appropriate for qualitative data

These criteria are subject to modification if, for example, it becomes feasible to apply higher standards that increase the validity and applicability of studies for clinical practice. The objective of Evidence-Based Nursing is to abstract only the very best literature, consistent with a reasonable number of articles “making it through the filter.”

Articles meeting the criteria set out above and chosen for coverage in Evidence-Based Nursing are described and reviewed by an expert in the content area covered by the article. This expert writes a commentary in which she or he describes the article and compares the study findings to previous research findings, identifies any important methodological problems that affect interpretation of the study results, and offers recommendations for clinical application.

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  • * Journals currently reviewed

    Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica


    Age and Ageing

    American Journal of Gastroenterology

    American Journal of Medicine

    American Journal of Psychiatry

    Annals of Emergency Medicine

    Annals of Internal Medicine

    Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

    Annals of Surgery

    ANS Advances in Nursing Sciences

    Applied Nursing Research

    Archives of Disease in Childhood Neonatal and Fetal

    Archives of General Psychiatry

    Archives of Internal Medicine

    Archives of Neurology

    Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine

    Arthritis and Rheumatism

    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

    Behaviour Research and Therapy



    BMC Psychiatry


    British Journal of Clinical Psychology

    British Journal of General Practice

    British Journal of Psychiatry

    British Journal of Surgery

    Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology

    Canadian Journal of Infection Control

    Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

    Canadian Respiratory Journal



    Cochrane Database of Systematic Review

    Critical Care Medicine

    Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology

    Diabetes Care

    Diabetic Medicine

    Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry

    Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep)



    Health Education and Behavior

    Health Psychology

    Health technology assessment reports


    Journal of Nursing Scholarship

    International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry


    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

    Journal of Advanced Nursing

    Journal of Affective Disorders

    Journal of Anxiety Disorders

    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines

    Journal of Clinical Epidemiology

    Journal of Clinical Nursing

    Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology

    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

    Journal of Family Practice

    Journal of Infectious Disease

    Journal of Manipulative and Physical Therapy

    Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry

    Journal of Paediatrics

    Journal of Psychosomatic Research

    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

    Journal of Vascular Surgery


    Medical Care

    Medical Journal of Australia



    Molecular Psychiatry


    New England Journal of Medicine



    PLOS Medicine

    Psychiatric Services

    Psychological Medicine

    Psychosomatic Medicine

    Qualitative Health Research


    Schizophrenia Bulletin

    Schizophrenia Research

    Social Science and Medicine




    Western Journal of Nursing Research

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