Evidence-Based Practice Opinion
The concept of evidence-based practice has gained recognition among health care specialists globally prompting the paper to discuss the concept especially in relation to nurses. Part A of the paper explores the importance associated with nurses utilizing evidence-based practice. Part B discusses reasons why nurses need to understand research methods so that they are able to implement evidence-based practices in their work. Finally, Part C of the paper uses the example of the evidence-based practice of clinical pathway in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Easington, the United Kingdom to discuss how nurses are utilizing evidence-based practices globally. The results from reviewed literature show that evidence-based practice helps nurses among other roles to improve patient outcomes. Research methods, on their part, assist nurses in evaluating the evidence in order to apply an accurate evidence-based practice to a patient case. Lastly, in Easington, the practice has helped reduce the cases of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Keywords: evidence-based practice, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, research methods, patient outcomes.
The evidence-based practice has been touted as the future of nursing practice for a long time. Consequently, nurses have joined other health care professionals in using the practice in the treatment and care of patients. The paper presents the major reasons for the importance of nurses to use evidence-based practice in their work. It also discusses the importance of nurses understanding research methods before implementing evidence-based practice. Moreover, the paper explores the application of evidence-based practice by nurses globally by using the case study of the clinical pathway practice in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Easington, the United Kingdom.
Part A: Importance of Evidence-Based Practice to Nursing
It is highly important for nurses to utilize evidence-based practices because these medical workers continually need to look for solutions and choices for patients that represent the best available knowledge internationally (International Council of Nurses, 2012). Exactly the evidence-based practice can provide these solutions. It is also important for nurses to utilize the mentioned practice to maintain their professional knowledge and competence .
The evidence-based practice also produces quality outcomes needed in the nursing profession. The alignment of expert evidence with nursing is a key goal while producing high-quality nursing services (Keele, 2010). The evidence-based practice is known to promote quality in health care by reducing illogical variation in care through standardizing healthcare practices to the best evidence. Furthermore, most of the mentioned practices are based on research. There is a basic conviction that empirical studies produce the most dependable information about the probability that a given practice will change a patients present health status to the preferred outcome (Webb, 2011). It is because the findings are a result of real-world observations, and the studies carried out on people are, therefore, applicable to a clinical setting. Thus, it is important for nurses to utilize evidence-based practice if they want to improve a patient outcome.
The evidence-based practice also encourages the individualization of patient care through the inclusion of patient preferences. It is because the research evidence in evidence-based practice is tailored with clinical expertise to fit specific patients needs (Webb, 2011). The patients, therefore, receive care that fits their individual cases. The evidence-based practice also improves nurses critical thinking and decision-making skills. It is facilitated by the fact that nurses have to evaluate continuously various research that would present positive outcomes to their practice (Webb, 2011). Moreover, the evidence-based practice enhances nurses clinical performance. It is because nurses are guaranteed of positive outcomes upon applying evidence to health care practices (ICN, 2012). Consequently, the high clinical performance translates to high job satisfaction and better group cohesion among nurses. In the long-run, it promotes job retention in health care.
Part B: Importance of Nurses Understanding Research Methods
When nurses fully understand different research methods, they are able to assess the appropriateness of using specific types of evidence in their practice. They then gain comprehension of the research methods that will produce appropriate findings if using them in practice (Webb, 2011). Another reason why nurses need to understand research methods is that the research findings can be difficult to analyze to a person who lacks knowledge of the research process. Most nurses are not well-versed in these processes. Therefore, before implementing evidence-based practice, nurses need to understand different research methods and the ways of their operation (Webb, 2011). It will help them accurately retrieve research findings from evidence-based practice and apply them to their health care cases.
By comprehending research methods, nurses become able to identify their merits and demerits. They can then compare the methods and find the most effective one in order to receive the best evidence-based results that can be used in the health care settings. Nurses can also appraise the methods as well as discover the most relevant and up-to-date research that can be useful to a particular health care situation (Webb, 2011). Upon choosing the right research method to apply to the health care case and implementing the research findings, a nurse is guaranteed of correct and positive outcomes of patients. Upon understanding research methods, a nurse is also able to break down the complexity and the challenge of translating evidence into clinical practice (Webb, 2011). Lastly, a nurse is able to introduce and isolate the research findings based on his/her understanding of the methods and develop specific-patient practices.
Part C: Global Utilization of Evidence-Based Practice
Nurses from different parts of the world are eagerly embracing evidence-based health care practices. An example is a case study of nurses in Easington, the UK, who have adopted an evidence-based practice in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a collection of lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive airways disease. In Easington, 28 per 10000 people have the disease, while in the whole UK, the disease kills about 30000 people a year (Wells, 2010, p.87). It is known to be prevalent among smokers, and that is why it mostly affects Easington where a significant percentage of the population is smokers.
At the time of implementing the evidence-based practice in the town, local hospital treatments were unsuccessful in reducing the rates of the disease (Wells, 2010). Consequently, nurses joined general practitioners, ambulance services, and social workers to set up a working group to develop an evidence-based practice that would effectively treat and reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nurses were essential in the research process: they moved from their roles of simply implementing evidence-based practice to participating in its research and development.
Furthermore, the nurses helped to develop the clinical pathway project aimed to offer patients efficient and cost-effective care delivered in places that the patients were comfortable in, namely their homes (Wells, 2010). Moreover, the nurses as a part of the working group developed self-management plans for those patients who were able to follow a simple flow chart at home to manage their condition. At the same time, for those patients who would require emergency admission to hospital in ambulance services, nurses and the other working group members developed a patient-specific intensive package of support that the patients could use at home. The package consisted of a clinical assessment to be provided within two hours of referral in case a patient needed to be rushed to the hospital for emergency care (Wells, 2010). Other services in the package included close monitoring by intermediate care nurses and referrals to appropriate support agencies when necessary.
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Nurses also played a significant role in publicizing the clinical pathway project. They attended several events to answer questions from the public about the project (Wells, 2010). Moreover, nurses were the basic instrument in the implementation stage of the practice. Intermediate care nurses and out-of-hours nurses cared for the COPD patients using the clinical pathway practice in their homes. Moreover, the nurses documented audits that measured patients satisfaction level with the project (Wells, 2010). Discharge liaison nurses and community respiratory nurses, on their part, accompanied other health workers to ensure patients received all-rounded care. Nurses were also the first point of contact for patients suffering from a further exacerbation of the disease (Wells, 2010). It was a change from the previous practice whereby ambulance services were the first point of contact for the patients. Finally, the nurses provided a continuum of care to the patients. These included nutritional services to advise patients on healthy eating and rehabilitation services to assist patients in ceasing their smoking habits.
Owing to nurses and other members of the working team, the clinical pathway evidence-based practice was successful with several patients reporting that they received both physical and psychological well-being after the practice (Wells, 2010). The practice also received recognition winning several awards such as the Best example of primary care partnership at the National Association of Primary Care 2008. The nurses, therefore, considerably advanced evidence-based practice.
It is highly essential for nurses to utilize evidence-based practice for several reasons, the major of which is the increase of their critical and decision-making skills. It is also important for nurses to understand research methods before implementing evidence-based practice for a variety of reasons. For example, by learning research methods, a nurse becomes able to isolate research findings and develop them to fit a specific case of patient treatment and care. In Easington, the UK, nurses have advanced evidence-based practice by participating in the research, launch and implementation of the clinical pathway practice for the treatment and management of COPD in patients. Their roles included being the first point of contact for emergency patients and providing them with an emergency treatment at homes. In essence, the evidence-based practice was highly successful in the UK.
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