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What Are EBP Questions?

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In medical science, evidence-based practice (EBP) is a systematic approach to making crucial patient care decisions.

Healthcare professionals refer to the most reliable information available from research, (often from meta-analyses and PICO systematic reviews) and take patient preferences and special circumstances into consideration when recommending treatment.

Similarly, medical device companies ask evidence-based questions regarding the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of a new device before launching it into the market.

What Is an EBP Question?

An evidence-based practice question is a highly specific and focused query that guides a research process, which could be related to any of the following fields:

  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Education

These questions use the PICO framework in research to craft a question based on four key elements:

  • Population: The subject of the question (e.g., patients, students, employees)
  • Intervention: Treatment, action, or approach being considered
  • Comparison: Alternative or comparison to the intervention, if any
  • Outcome: The result or effect being measured

In some cases, PICO(T) in research is also used to frame an EBP question. The ‘T’ in this case stands for ‘time.’

Example of an EBP Question

To give you a better understanding of how this works, here’s an example of an EBP question: For patients with hypertension (aged sixty-five or older), does engaging in daily aerobic exercise lead to a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to those leading a sedentary lifestyle over a twelve-week period?

Here’s a breakdown of its PICO(T) elements:

Population: Elderly people with hypertension over the age of 65
Intervention: Daily aerobic exercise
Comparison: No exercise, sedentary lifestyle
Outcome: Reduction in systolic blood pressure
Time: Twelve weeks

Types of EBP Questions

Generally, there are two types of EBP questions. These include:

Background Questions

Background EBP questions seek general knowledge and understanding of a topic. They are broad and foundational, aiming to provide context and basic information. These questions often start with ‘What,’ ‘Why,’ ‘When,’ and ‘Where.’

For example: What are the common risk factors for diabetes?

This type of query helps build a foundational understanding of a subject before diving deep into the specifics of a question.

Foreground Questions

These questions are specific and focused queries that guide decision-making in a particular situation. They follow the PICO(T) framework, address a clear issue, and may involve treatment, diagnosis, or prognosis.

They begin with words such as ‘Does,’ ‘Are,’ and ‘How.’

For example: In adults with Type 2 diabetes, does regular exercise result in better blood sugar control over a six-month period compared to medication alone?

The purpose of this type of EBP question is to find specific high-quality evidence and make well-informed health and regulatory decisions.

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How to Formulate an EBP Question

Now that you know the basics, let’s quickly discuss how you can formulate an EBP question using the PICO framework:

First, identify the clinical scenario. Define the clinical scenario or issue you want to address. Mention clearly what specific problem, condition, or situation you are trying to understand or manage.

Next, break down the scenario into PICO components:

  • Patients or Population: Define the characteristics of the specific population or group of patients you want to study. You can define them by gender, age, medical conditions, lifestyle, etc.
  • Intervention: Highlight the treatment, exposure, or action that you’re considering.
  • Comparison: Identify the alternative to the intervention. Is it a placebo, standard care, or some other treatment?
  • Outcome: Mention the measurable outcome you wish to study.

Lastly, formulate the question. Put all the components from the second step together to create a structured question. For example, let’s say you’re conducting a literature review with DistillerSR software for an implantable medical device that automatically regulates blood glucose levels.

Your EBP question could look something like this: In adult patients with Type 1 Diabetes (P), how does the use of the GlucoCheck implantable glucose regulation device (I), compared to standard insulin injection therapy (C), and does it affect the control of blood glucose levels and the frequency of hypoglycemic episodes over a period of one year (O)?

Using EBP questions in combination with professional experience and patient preferences can go a long way to improving patient outcomes.

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