Incorporating Evidence Into Your Practice: A Quick Guide For Clinicians

One of the major barriers to keeping current in evidence-based practice can be information overload, limited research evidence and limited accessibility to research. We all know that as therapists choosing and paying for a subscription to various rehabilitation and medical journals can be costly and finding a reputable site to obtain new insights can be all-too overwhelming. As therapists we need to take a more active approach to evidence-based practice. But where do we start?...

 What are your clinical questions?

Does your question relate to a specific diagnostic group? Is it related to an intervention, assessment tool or new piece of technology?

Discover your question and label it as your problem statement to begin searching for evidence-based research.

What’s the ‘best’ evidence?

Question the academic value of any and all research you come across as a therapist. Look for the most recent and well-organized studies that are valid and clinically significant. When first looking at an article determine your interest in the research question proposed. Does the study have a good research design, methodology, and appropriate outcome measures? What are the levels of evidence starting from the top down?

·       Systematic review

·       Randomized control trials

·       Cohort and case-control studies

·       Case study

·       Expert opinion

Finding evidence-based research

Because there are so many rehabilitation and medical article published each year, finding a master tool to sort through a mass of research journals each requiring their own subscription is key. The Cochrane database is a very valuable international database that organizes systematic reviews. The database can provide you with a link to the article of your choosing. Other valuable databases include PEDro (physiotherapy evidence database) and OTseeker.com. When you are seeking a specific article, or would like to further specialize search criteria other paid databases include and are not limited to MEDLINE, PubMed, and CINAHL.

 Don’t see the research you’re looking for?

So you didn’t find an answer to your problem statement, a valid article or an appropriate research design? Consider conducting your own research! Create a research proposal and submit it to your professional association or a rehabilitation conference. Engaging in academic research can boost your career and demonstrates leadership in the field of rehabilitation. With your new research you may gain a reputation as knowledgeable or even expert on a topic in your field. Get your ideas heard and connect with professionals in your field through rehabilitation conferences, online networking or special interest groups who have the potential to be future research mentors or collaborators, sources for grants and/or funding. 

Want to start small? Create design and implement your own case study with a patient in your facility using an innovative treatment plan or evaluation tool. Take the opportunity to a write-up or poster and submit your work to your facility, a professional organization, or local conference.

So you decided to put in a proposal for new research?

Go to clinicaltrials.gov to look at current studies in progress on your topic or ideas for your own study design. Establish collaborators, funding and support for your research externally or through your institution submitting your research proposal to the institutional review board (IRB). Use your research proposal and problem statement to write the study introduction, literature review and design. Conduct your research with permission from the IRB Then put together the study’s methods, procedures and outcome measures with the help of your research mentor.

 

Take a more active role in incorporating current evidence-based practice into your treatments today!

 

Authored by Holly Mitchell, MOT, OTR/L

Clinical Manager, Barrett Technology

 

References:

Bennett, S. & Bennett J.W. (2000). The process of evidence-based practice in occupational therapy: Informing clinical decisions. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 47, 171-180.

Holly Mitchell