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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.


  • * Journals currently reviewed

    • Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica

    • Addiction

    • 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

    • Birth

    • BJOG

    • BMC Psychiatry

    • BMJ

    • 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

    • Circulation

    • CMAJ

    • 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)

    • Gastroenterology

    • Gut

    • Health Education and Behavior

    • Health Psychology

    • Health technology assessment reports

    • Heart

    • Journal of Nursing Scholarship

    • International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

    • JAMA

    • 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

    • Lancet

    • Medical Care

    • Medical Journal of Australia

    • Medicine

    • Midwifery

    • Molecular Psychiatry

    • Neurology

    • New England Journal of Medicine

    • Pain

    • Paediatrics

    • PLOS Medicine

    • Psychiatric Services

    • Psychological Medicine

    • Psychosomatic Medicine

    • Qualitative Health Research

    • Rheumatology

    • Schizophrenia Bulletin

    • Schizophrenia Research

    • Social Science and Medicine

    • Spine

    • Stroke

    • Thorax

    • Western Journal of Nursing Research