Evidence-Based Practice: Advantages & Disadvantages

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  • 0:03 Evidence-Based Practice
  • 2:31 Advantages
  • 3:52 Disadvantages
  • 5:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Morgan Knowles

Morgan has been a peri-operative educator for four years and has a Master's degree in Nursing Education.

In this lesson, we'll define evidence-based practice. We'll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of evidence-based practice as a method of caring for people.

Evidence-Based Practice

If you were diagnosed with a disease and faced with decisions about types of treatment, would you want your doctor to share the best and latest evidence gathered from studies of patients with the same disease, or would you want to be offered the traditional treatment used by doctors for the past however many years? The practice of medicine requires sound and knowledgeable decision-making by medical professionals.

Medical professional is a broad term that we'll use to refer to all people you may encounter in the medical field, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, therapists, and technicians. Since medical professionals have to make decisions regarding materials, techniques, procedures, and treatments to present information to you or your loved ones in the form of treatment options and consequences, they must have credible knowledge sources. Where do they get this knowledge? From books alone? From those who instructed and guided them over the years? Or, does it come from somewhere else?

Some medical knowledge comes from education and mentors, some from practice and lived experience, and some from continued education by reviewing research studies conducted by other medical professionals. Combining evidence from multiple credible studies and meticulously using the best findings to enhance the care and treatment of patients is known as evidence-based practice.

Think about standard medical practice and evidence-based practice as two different types of friends, and treatment as friendship. Standard medicine is an old friend who you've known all your life. Now that you're older, you don't have as much in common with this old friend as you once did, but he's still a trusted and reliable comrade. Evidence-based practice is a new friend whom you've recently met. You two have many similarities that make spending time together enjoyable. Although this new friend hasn't been around your entire life, he seems just as reliable and trustworthy as your old friend. Both friends are good options to spend time with, but they have their differences. Your old friend has less in common with you, but with the new friend you're still a little cautious about the relationship due to its newness. Overall they both offer friendship, which is what you're ultimately seeking. It's just a matter of choosing which one you'd rather spend more time with. Standard approaches to medicine work and have stood the test of time, but technology and science are always advancing. Sometimes it is best to continue to learn and change to make things better, which is what evidence-based practice supports.


Advantages of evidence-based practice include the ability to evolve and individualize care of patients, reduce cost of patient care, and enhance the expertise of the medical professional providing your care. Evidence-based practice has done much to advance healthcare, causing all methods of care to be based on the best available credible evidence and to restrict the opinions of experts to be taken only as opinions rather than proven facts. Credible evidence is a combination of findings from a study that must include research documentation of accuracy, validity, appropriateness of data, verification and corroboration of multiple data sources, and validation of data findings by professional research colleagues.

Without the implementation of evidence-based practice, patients are at risk of receiving outdated, possibly harmful medical advice and care. Perpetual learning and evidence-based practice are important because evidence is continually evolving and new findings are changing things that we believed to be true in the past. Most of us can recall an incident where medical professionals supported one practice or treatment, and years down the line found it was not actually the best option, such as putting babies to sleep on their stomachs. This recommended practice was studied and found to be a cause of sudden infant death syndrome. Now, it's recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep.

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