About Evidence-Based Practice & Levels of Evidence

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is utilizing best research evidence and integrating it with the practitioner's expertise and patient values. EBP provides nurses with improved actions and activities to effectively deliver patient care.

EBP journals include articles based on evidence and clinical expertise for the best available patient care and decision-making practices. EBP articles include a discussion of current research or a literature review related to the article topic. To evaluate EBPs, levels of evidence are used.

It is important to evaluate or identify the level of evidence to determine if it is credible, valid, reliable, and appropriate for practice. For example, randomized controlled trials (RCT), designed to be unbiased and with less risk of errors, are at the highest level, whereas literature reviews, case reports or expert opinions are at the lowest level. When searching for evidence-based information, choose the highest level of evidence: randomized controlled trials (RCT) and systematic review of RTCs, with or without meta-analysis.

See Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice for five Evidence Levels and Quality Guide, or do a web search for "levels of evidence in nursing research" to view charts, tables, graphs and text on the topic.

How to Find EBP Articles and Journals in CINAHL and MEDLINE

In CINAHL, to search for articles from evidence-based practice journals and about evidence-based practice, mark the Evidence-Based Practice limiter on Advanced Search.

The limiter subset includes articles about best practices, research articles (systematic reviews, clinical trials, meta analyses, qualitative studies), commentaries on research studies (applying practice to research), and case studies if they meet the criteria of the use of research and/or evidence-based practice terms.

To find articles with selected levels of research:

    Key in your topic. Then add a relevant phrase in quotation marks, such as "evidence based", "evidence-based practice", or "best practices".
  • In Advanced Search, key in your topic. On  the Advanced Search page,  select from the Publication Type filters: Randomized Controlled Trials, Systematic Reviews, Meta analysis to limit the results. (See image below.) Click the yellow Search button at the bottom of the Search Options. After you have conducted a search, you can also go to the Advanced Search page to mark limiters.
    CINAHL Advanced Search

Evidence-Based Nursing in Consumer Health Complete

The database includes more than 2,000 articles on evidence-based nursing articles.

About Evidence-Based Care Sheets in CINAHL

What are Evidence-Based Care Sheets?

CINAHL Evidence-Based Care Sheets (EBCS) are summaries on specific key topics, which are focused on nursing practice. Each evidence-based care sheet incorporates the latest evidence, statistics, research and references on a given topic. The references are ranked, using a coding matrix, according to the type of literature they represent (systematic reviews, meta-analysis, etc).

To browse and search the list of Evidence-Based Care Sheets:

  1. Ggo to CINAHL.
  2. Click Evidence-Based Care Sheets in the top toolbar.
  3. Browse the alphabetical list of topics or key in a search term.
  4. To view, mark the checkbox in front of one or several topics, then click Search.


Note: For citations, always check the print manual and follow your professor's requirement.