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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 summarised in “value added” abstracts and commented on by clinical experts. 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, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or economics of health problems managed by nurses and on quality assurance and continuing professional development

  • To summarise this literature in the form of “structured abstracts” that describe the objectives, methods, results, and evidence-based conclusions of studies in a reproducible and accurate fashion

  • To provide brief, highly expert comment on the context of each article, its methods, and clinical applications that its findings warrant

  • To disseminate the summaries in a timely fashion to nurses.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Publishing Company and the BMJ Publishing Group publish Evidence-Based Nursing under the editorship of Dr Alba DiCenso and Dr Donna Ciliska at McMaster University in Canada and Dr Nicky Cullum at the University of York in the UK. The Health Information Research Unit (HIRU) of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University hosts the editorial office for the production of the abstracts and commissioning of commentaries. Dr Brian Haynes acts as coordinating editor to ensure that methods and procedures are consistent with other evidence-based journals prepared by HIRU.

Criteria for selection and review of articles for abstracting

All articles in a journal issue are considered for abstracting if they meet these criteria:


  • Original or review articles

  • In English

  • Quantitative or qualitative studies

  • About individuals of all age groups

  • About topics that are important to the clinical practice of nurses in all settings.


Studies of prevention or treatment must meet these additional criteria:

  • Use of most rigorous study design to appropriately address the question

  • Follow up (end point assessment) of at least 80% of those entering the investigation

  • Outcome measure of known or probable clinical importance

  • Analysis consistent with study design.

Studies of diagnosis must meet these additional criteria:

  • Clearly identified comparison groups, at least one of which is free of the disorder or condition

  • Interpretation of diagnostic standard without knowledge of test result

  • Interpretation of test without knowledge of diagnostic standard result

  • 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 among observers)

  • Analysis consistent with study design.

Studies of prognosis must meet these additional criteria:

  • All study participants initially free of the outcome of interest

  • Follow up of at least 80% of participants until the occurrence of a major study end point or to the end of the study

  • Analysis consistent with study design.

Studies of causation must meet these additional criteria:

  • Clearly identified comparison group for those at risk of, or having, the outcome of interest (ie, randomised, quasi randomised, or non-randomised controlled trial; cohort analytic study with case by case matching or statistical adjustment to create comparable groups; case control study)

  • Blinding of observers of outcome to exposure (criterion assumed to be met if outcome is objective, eg, all cause mortality, self administered psychometric test)

  • Blinding of observers of exposure to outcomes for case control studies or blinding of subjects to exposure for all other study designs

  • Analysis consistent with study design.

Studies of quality assurance and continuing education must meet these additional criteria:

  • Use of most rigorous study design to appropriately address question

  • Follow up of at least 80% of participants

  • Outcome measure of known or probable clinical or educational importance

  • Analysis consistent with study design.

Studies of the economics of healthcare programmes or interventions must meet these additional criteria:

  • The economic question must compare alternative courses of action

  • Alternative diagnostic or therapeutic services or quality assurance activities must be compared on the basis of both the outcomes produced (effectiveness) and resources consumed (costs)

  • Evidence of effectiveness must be from a study (or studies) that meets the criteria for treatment, diagnosis, quality assurance, or a review article

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

  • Where there is uncertainty in the estimates or imprecision in the measurement, a sensitivity analysis should be done.

Clinical prediction guides must meet these additional criteria:

The guide must be generated in 1 set of patients (training set) and validated in an independent set of patients (test set) and must also meet the above noted criteria for treatment, diagnosis, prognosis, or causation.

Review articles must meet these additional criteria:

  • 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

  • At least 1 article in the review must meet the above noted criteria for treatment, diagnosis, prognosis, causation, quality improvement, or economics of health care programmes.


  • Research topic or question specified

  • Appropriate research design to address question

  • Research method described and substantiated

  • Study participants and context described

  • Information gathering and analysis appropriate

  • Data interpretation and conclusions consistent with data analysis.

These criteria are subject to modification if, for example, it is found 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 are abstracted according to the procedure for more informative abstracts,1 with these modifications: abstracts can be up to 425 words in length; and each abstract is reviewed by an expert in the content area covered by the article. This expert writes a commentary in which she or he 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. The author of the article is given an opportunity to review the abstract and commentary before publication.

Journals currently reviewed

  • Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand

  • Acta Psychiatr Scand

  • Age Ageing

  • Am J Cardiol

  • Am J Crit Care

  • Am J Epidemiol

  • Am J Gastroenterol

  • Am J Health Promot

  • Am J Infect Control

  • Am J Med

  • Am J Obstet Gynecol

  • Am J Psychiatry

  • Am J Public Health

  • Am J Respir Crit Care Med

  • Am J Surg

  • Am Psychol

  • Anaesthesia

  • Ann Emerg Med

  • Ann Intern Med

  • Ann Med

  • Ann Surg

  • ANNA J

  • ANS Adv Nurs Sci

  • AORN J

  • Appl Nurs Res

  • Arch Dis Child

  • Arch Fam Med

  • Arch Gen Psychiatry

  • Arch Intern Med

  • Arch Neurol

  • Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med

  • Arch Surg

  • Arthritis Rheum

  • Aust J Adv Nurs

  • Behav Res Ther

  • Birth

  • BMJ

  • Br J Clin Psychol

  • Br J Gen Pract

  • Br J Obstet Gynaecol

  • Br J Psychiatry

  • Br J Rheumatol

  • Br J Surg

  • Can J Nurs Adm

  • Can J Nurs Res

  • Can J Psychiatry

  • Can J Public Health

  • CMAJ

  • Cancer Nurs

  • Cardiovasc Nurs

  • Chest

  • Circulation

  • Clin Invest Med

  • Clin Nurs Res

  • Clin Pediatr

  • Clin Psychology

  • Cochrane Library

  • Cognitive Therapy and Research

  • Crit Care Med

  • Diabet Med

  • Diabetes Care

  • Diabetes Educ

  • Dimen Crit Care Nurs

  • Fam Plann Perspect

  • Fertil Steril

  • Gastroenterol Nurs

  • Gastroenterology

  • Gut

  • Health Educ Behav

  • Health Psychol

  • Heart

  • Heart Lung

  • Hypertension

  • Image J Nurs Sch

  • Int J Eat Disord

  • Int J Geriatr Psychiatry

  • JAMA

  • J Abnorm Psychol

  • J Adv Nurs

  • J Affect Disord

  • J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry

  • J Am Board Fam Pract

  • J Am Coll Cardiol

  • J Am Coll Surg

  • J Am Geriatr Soc

  • J Am Med Informatic Assoc

  • J Burn Care Rehabil

  • J Child Psychol Psychiatry

  • J Clin Epidemiol

  • J Clin Exp Neuropsychol

  • J Clin Psychiatry

  • J Clin Psychopharmacol

  • J Community Health Nurs

  • J Consult Clin Psychol

  • J Epidemiol Community Health

  • J Fam Pract

  • J Family Nursing

  • J Gen Intern Med

  • J Infect Dis

  • J Intern Med

  • J Nerv Ment Dis

  • J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

  • J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci

  • J Neurosci Nurs

  • J Nurs Staff Dev

  • J Nurse Midwifery

  • J Pain Symptom Manage

  • J Pediatr

  • J Pediatr Nurs

  • J Pediatr Oncol Nurs

  • J Perianesth Nurs

  • J Vasc Nurs

  • J Vasc Surg

  • J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs

  • Journal of Counseling Psychology

  • Lancet

  • Med Care

  • Med J Aust

  • Midwifery

  • N Engl J Med

  • Neonatal Netw

  • Neurology

  • NT Research

  • Nurs Res

  • Nurs Times

  • Obstet Gynecol

  • Pain

  • Patient Educ Couns

  • Pediatrics

  • Perspect Psychiatr Care

  • Prog Cardiovasc Nurs

  • Pyschiatry Interpersonal and Biological Processes

  • Psychol Aging

  • Psychol Bull

  • Psychol Med

  • Psychological Assessment

  • Psychopharmacol Bull

  • Psychosom Med

  • Public Health Nurs

  • Qual Health Care

  • Qual Health Res

  • Res Nurs Health

  • Schizophr Bull

  • Schizophr Res

  • Social Health Illn

  • Spine

  • Stroke

  • Surgery

  • Thorax

  • West J Nurs Res