Evidence informed practice, or EIP, comes from the term evidence-based practice, which is used to describe the type of care necessary for healthcare professions. Over the years, however, as ethics have become a concern for a broad range of other fields, the two terms have become interchangeable and are commonly used to describe the appropriate type of services provided to clients. There are basically five levels of EIP that professionals need to consider, and each of them are described briefly in the following sections.
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Ask Relevant Questions
Before organizations can provide any type of service to clients, they need to determine the answers to several questions. Answering these questions can help them determine appropriate goals related to providing quality service to existing and potential clients. These questions can best be remembered using an easy method known as PICO. Each letter of PICO represents the type of question that should be asked before interacting with clients. A typical example follows:
- P – Population and Problem (Which population do we want to serve, and what are their problems?)
- I – Intervention (How should we intervene to solve our clients' problems?)
- C – Comparison (How many types of interventions are possible, and which one/s would likely be most effective?
- O – Outcomes (Was the research process effective? Is additional research needed? Was the chosen intervention effective? Would a different intervention be more effective?
Gather Evidence (Data) Through Research
The next step in ensuring that evidence-informed practices are appropriate for targeted clientele is gathering evidence through careful research. In most cases, the larger the clientele base, the more intense the research should be. In fields that handle entire communities of persons, research should include examining the results of research studies conducted by reputable organizations pertaining to similar issues. Other sources of research may include such things as journals, industry reference centers, and scholastic abstracts.
Examine Data Gathered Through Research
According to the health library of the Northern Territory Department of Health, the third step in determining effective EIPs is examining the data gathered through research. While the Northern Territory Department of Health explains this step for persons in health positions, it is also relevant to other fields. This step involves examining any relevant data gathered during the research process, determining what data can help answer the questions described in PICO, discarding data that is not relevant, and determining whether or not further research may be necessary.
Combine Evidence with Own Expertise and Clients' Preferences
The fourth level to consider when creating effective EIP plans is combining evidence gathered through research with the professional's own expertise and clients' preferences. Professionals consider research results and their own knowledge of the subject/s at hand to create several possible solutions to the questions asked in level one. They then present these solutions to their clients to determine which one or ones that clients may prefer.
Evaluate Entire Process and End Result
While it may seem as if the fourth level described above should be the final step involved in designing evidence-informed practices, there is one more level that is crucial to long-term success. This level involves evaluating the entire process including the questions asked in level one, the research process, and the sources of data gathered from outside sources. Did the entire process produce satisfactory results? If not, the entire process may need to be repeated altering various factors as necessary.
When organizations provide services to individuals and groups, there are several things that they need to consider first. These considerations are the basis of what is known as evidence informed practice, and the five levels of EIP are described briefly in the preceding sections.