What is Evidence Based Practice?
What is evidence based practice [EBP], and why should you care?
Well, put simply, EBP means that health professionals have appraised all the available research (evidence) on a particular aspect of health care, to guide decisions and management of their patients. If you want the best care, then EBP is the way to ensure you get it! But not all research is created equally!
Imagine if I told you I’d done an experiment where I’d tested the effects of fennel seed tea on my head cold, and found it beneficial. Now imagine that a group of researchers tested this same tea and a placebo on 1,000 people, where 500 people had the tea, and 500 had the placebo – but neither the researchers nor the participants were aware of what they had. When results were analysed, it was shown that the tea reduced the duration of a head cold by 24 hours. Now, this scenario is entirely fictional (I’m not advocating at all for fennel seed tea at any time!), but it shows two different studies of varying quality, but the results of one study are clearly more reliable than the other.
Here’s another scenario: a doctor wants to prescribe drug A to treat patients with high blood pressure and goes searching for studies investigating the effects of drug A to support the practice. However, this ignores the research looking at drug B, exercise C and food D in treatment of high blood pressure. In short, what the doctor actually should have considered is “what is the most effective practice in treating high blood pressure?”. Luckily the vast majority of doctors have great skills when it comes to informing and supporting their practice!
Why does this matter to you? Well, who doesn’t want the absolute best outcomes when it comes to their health, and especially if this means your pregnancy, your baby and yourself! It doesn’t mean that you need to suddenly start searching for studies – just ask your midwife or obstetrician for the answers! Ask them what the evidence says on things that shorten labour (always a good thing!), or the research that supports the newborn Vitamin K supplementation (overwhelming!). Whatever your care or question, there is usually an answer – and make your health care practitioner accountable to providing you with the best care possible. Transparency in research and clinical practice is always a good thing. That's why in my education articles, you will always see links to the source of my information - that's how you know I'm not making up statistics or facts - and you can follow the link to read the source for yourself. You should be wary of any 'information' that does not include a reference for the information contained - unless it's an opinion piece. Then you can decide for yourself how your own beliefs align with that particular opinion.
Don’t do something just because you’ve been told “we’ve always done it this way” or because Dr Google told you to. Make informed choices that are in the best interests of you, your baby and your family. In this case, knowledge is definitely power! Click here to see my two most recommended books that will prepare you for your pregnancy and birth experience.