The principal of evidence based medicine is founded on the ability to use scientific research to provide optimum healthcare. The process of establishing the most effective treatments is divided into several key stages of testing, analysis, appraisal, application and evaluation. The main focus of the application of evidence based medicine is the utilisation of the results of the research, rather than the research process itself.

Research

The specific area of research is first decided by healthcare and scientific professionals, based on which clinical question is being addressed; the necessary trials and tests then take place in a controlled environment under the supervision of experts in this field. Once the results have been recorded they are generally made available to healthcare professionals by means of databases such as the Cochrane Library. It is then the responsibility of those professionals to interpret the evidence exhibited in these records in the context of situations that arise in the setting in which they practice.

Interpretation

Based on the results and evidence presented in the reviews, healthcare professionals must form an analysis; this can be determining whether or not a drug is an effective treatment for the particular condition examined for example. Healthcare organisations such as the NHS have a complex scale system for identifying and quantifying the efficacy and risk related to each individual research project; this is dependent on the strength of the evidence and the degree of risk related to each treatment. Once the safety and efficacy of each treatment has been discussed a decision can be made whether or not to implement that treatment.

Implementation

Evidence based medicine is founded on the concept that treatments that are proven to be effective without significant risk should be implemented and treatments that are found to have no benefit should not; therefore the majority of successful treatments identified by research could well be implemented into the National Health Service. If this is the case, this decision will be recorded in line with BMA guidelines and passed on to other healthcare professionals, usually by means of updated guidelines and individual hospital procedure.

Keeping Up-to-date

Research is continuous and therefore all healthcare professionals must be aware of contemporary guidelines.

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