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Evidence Based Practice: Nursing

Resources for Appraising Research

Finding RCTs

Finding Randomised Control Trials in the literature can be difficult. The following website outlines a number of search strategies ('hedges') that can be used to greatly improve the number of scientifically sound and clinically relevant studies retrieved based on your requirements.

These searches cover CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO.

HiRU: Evidence-based Health Informatics

What is the difference between Specificity and Sensitivity?

Specificity: This refers to how accurate the results of a particular search will be. A search with high specificity will only find articles that relate to your specific topic. This type of search will usually only find a small number of results but these will be guaranteed to be highly relevant. Be aware that this type of search may miss some relevant research.

Sensitivity: This refers to the likelihood of your search picking up any literature that relates to your topic. A highly sensitive search will be guaranteed to find all relevant research. The downside to a highly sensitive search is that a lot of irrelevant material will also be included in the results.

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Clinical Practice Guidelines are used to guide decision making in care. Below are some links to Clinical Practice Guidelines for Nursing Practioners.


Use 'PICO' to formulate an answerable question.

P   population or partcipants

I   intervention or indicator

C   comparator or control

O   outcome

Example Clinical Question:

"For pregnant women, is nuchal translucency ultrasound plus serum biochemistry testing in the first trimester as accurate (i.e. with equal or better sensitivity and specificity) as conventional amniocentesis for diagnosing Down Syndrome?" 

Example from Cochrane Library Tutorial, University of Oxford, UK 

Application to PICO model: 

Population/Patient: pregnant women

Intervention/Indicator: nuchal translucency ultrasound plus serum biochemistry (first trimester)

Comparitor/Control: conventional amniocentesis

Outcome: accurate diagnosis (measured by sensitivity and specificity) of Down Syndrome

Useful Resources

If you'd like more information about the principles of EBN or how to conduct a systematic review, take a look at some of these books:


This is a selection of journals covering Evidence Based Nursing.

Grey literature

Information and links to assist searching for evidence-based grey literature.