McMaster Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Workshops

EBCP Backgrounder

What is Evidence-Based Clinical Practice / Evidence-Based Medicine?

Evidence-based clinical practice (EBCP) is an approach to health-care practice that explicitly acknowledges the evidence that bears on each patient management decision, the strength of that evidence, the benefits and risk of alternative management strategies, and the role of patients' values and preferences in trading off those benefits and risks.

Evidence-Based Practice is a five-step process:

  • Construct a relevant, answerable question from a clinical case.
  • Plan and carry out a search of the literature for the best external evidence.
  • Critically appraise the literature for validity and applicability.
  • Apply the evidence to your clinical practice.
  • Evaluate your performance

See also:

Why Are Evidence and Values or Preferences Important?

Clinicians are confronted daily with questions about the interpretation of diagnostic tests, the harm associated with exposure to an agent, the prognosis of a disease in a specific patient, the effectiveness of a preventive or therapeutic intervention, and the relative costs and benefits associated with these decisions. Both clinicians and policy makers need to know whether the conclusions of a primary study or a systematic review are valid, and whether recommendations in clinical practice guidelines are sound.

Members of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University, in collaboration with other colleagues trained in both medicine and in clinical epidemiology, have developed a set of common sense strategies to assist in the critical appraisal of evidence. They have also developed approaches to explicitly considering values and preferences in clinical decision-making, thereby encouraging the practice of EBCP.

Evidence-based Medicine at McMaster University

"In 1992 [sic], medical researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada first defined evidence-based medicine (EBM) in the biomedical literature. The concept was based on advances in clinical research - clinical trials, clinical epidemiology, and meta-analysis - in which the limits of individual expertise were recognized."


In 2007, the British Medical Journal hailed the development of evidence-based medicine by researchers at McMaster University as one of the 15 greatest medical breakthroughs of the last 166 years... Experts at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Calgary and the University of California argued in support of evidence-based medicine as the top milestone. They said without this advance from McMaster University the health of many would have suffered.

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