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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 nurses. 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 summarise this literature in the form of “structured abstracts” that describe the question, 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 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 under the editorship of Dr Donna Ciliska at McMaster University in Canada, Dr Andrew Jull at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Dr Carl Thompson 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.


All articles in a journal issue are considered for abstracting if 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

  • follow-up (end-point assessment) of ⩾80% of those entering the investigation

  • 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)

  • interpretation of the diagnostic standard without knowledge of test result

  • interpretation of the test without knowledge of diagnostic standard result

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

  • follow-up of ⩾80% of participants until a major study endpoint occurs or the study ends

Studies of causation must also include:

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

  • prospective data collection with 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)

  • blinding (masking) of observers of outcome to exposure; criterion assumed to be met if outcome is objective (eg, all-cause mortality)

Studies of quality improvement or continuing education must also include:

  • random allocation of participants or units to comparison groups

  • follow-up of ⩾80% of participants

  • 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

  • a sensitivity analysis if there is uncertainty in the estimates or imprecision in the measurement

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 are abstracted according to the procedure for more informative abstracts,1 with the following modifications: abstracts are approximately 400 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 original article is given an opportunity to review the abstract and commentary before publication.

On an quarterly basis, we will publish to the Evidence-Based Nursing website ( a selected list of articles that passed all criteria but were not abstracted because, in the judgment of the editors, their findings were less applicable to general nursing practice, the topic was of interest to only a select group of nurse specialists, or the topic was recently addressed in another abstract.

Journals currently reviewed*

Acad Emerg Med

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand

Acta Orthop

Age Ageing

Aliment Pharmacol Ther

Am J Cardiol

Am J Clin Nutr

Am J Epidemiol

Am J Gastroenterol

Am J Kidney Dis

Am J Med

Am J Obstet Gynecol

Am J Occup Ther

Am J Psychiatry

Am J Public Health

Am J Respir Crit Care Med

Am J Sports Med

Anesth Analg


Ann Allerg Asthma Immunol

Ann Emerg Med

Ann Fam Med

Ann Intern Med

Ann Neurol

Ann Rheum Dis

Ann Surg

ANS Adv Nurs Sci

Appl Nurs Res

Arch Dermatol

Arch Dis Child

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed

Arch Gen Psychiatry

Arch Intern Med

Arch Neurol

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med

Arch Phys Med Rehabil

Arch Surg

Arthritis Rheum

Arthritis Rheum: Arthritis Care Res


Aust J Physiother




Br J Gen Pract

Br J Psychiatry

Br J Surg

Can J Anaesth

Can J Gastroenterol

Can J Nurs Res

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)

Cancer Nurs




Clin Chem

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol

Clin J Pain

Clin Orthop Rel Res

Clin Rehab


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Crit Care Med

Diabet Med

Diabetes Care

Diabetes Obes Metab

Eur Heart J

Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ)

Fam Pract

Foot Ankle Int




Health Educ Behav

Health Psychol

Health Technol Assess


Heart Lung

Int J Clin Pract

Int J Nurs Stud

Int J Obes (Lond)

J Adv Nurs

J Allerg Clin Immunol

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry

J Am Acad Dermatol

J Am Coll Cardiol

J Am Coll Surg

J Am Diet Assoc

J Am Geriatr Soc

J Am Soc Nephrol

J Arthroplasty

J Bone Joint Surg Am

J Bone Joint Surg Br

J Child Psychol Psychiatry

J Clin Epidemiol

J Clin Nurs

J Clin Oncol

J Clin Psychopharmacol

J Consult Clin Psychol

J Fam Pract

J Gen Intern Med

J Hand Surg [Am]

J Hand Surg Eur Vol

J Infect Dis

J Manipulative Physiol Ther

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

J Neurosurg

J Nurs Scholarsh

J Orthop Trauma

J Pediatr

J Pediatr Oncol Nurs

J Pediatric Orthop

J Rheumatol

J Shoulder Elbow Surg

J Trauma

J Vasc Surg


Kidney Int


Lancet Neurol

Lancet Oncology

Mayo Clin Proc

Med Care

Med J Aust


N Engl J Med


Nurs Res

Nutr J

Obesity (Silver Spring)

Obesity Surgery

Obstet Gynecol

Oncol Nurs Forum


Patient Educ Couns



Phys Ther

Prev Med

Psychosom Med

Qual Health Res


Res Nurs Health

Rheumatology (Oxford)

Soc Sci Med


Spine J



West J Nurs Res

*This list is subject to modification based on the relative performance of each journal according to the set criteria.