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During the brief time that we have been engaged in developing Evidence-Based Nursing we have been fascinated by the reactions of friends, professional colleagues, and the media. The overwhelming majority of responses to the concepts of evidence-based nursing and the creation of this journal have been positive. But there have also been misgivings, sometimes generated by misunderstandings. This editorial addresses the following criticisms which we have encountered in person and in print: (1) evidence-based practice isn't new: it's what we have been doing for years, (2) evidence-based nursing leads to “cookbook” nursing and a disregard for individualised patient care and, (3) there is an over-emphasis on randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews in evidence-based health care. We intend the paper to generate, rather than close the debate!
Evidence-based practice isn't new; it's what we have been doing for years
The plea that “each nurse must care enough about her own practice to want to make sure it is based on the best possible information” is not new. It was written more than 15 years ago. In the same article, Hunt noted that the phrase “nursing should become a research-based profession” had already become a cliché!1 Over 20 years ago, Gortner et al lamented the lack of research evidence in many areas of nursing practice,2 and the year after, Roper spoke of nursing performing “far too many of its tasks on a traditional base and not within a framework of scientific verifications” .3
While the recognition of the importance of evidence-based practice is not new, much of the past 20 years has focused on the identification of the barriers to evidence-based practice and the consideration of strategies to overcome these barriers. These barriers include time constraints, limited access to the literature, lack of training in information seeking and critical appraisal skills, a professional ideology that emphasises practical rather than intellectual …