McMaster University

Evidence-Based Practice Resources

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What is Evidence-Based Medicine?

Evidence-Based Practice is a five-step process:

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

Step 1: Constructing a relevant, answerable question

Hierarchy of pre-processed evidence

[ [Adapted from DiCenso, Bayley and Haynes (2009). ACP Journal Club. Editorial: Accessing pre-appraised evidence: Fine-tuning the 5S model into a 6S model. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(6):JC3-2, JC3-3.]


“An evidence-based clinical information system integrates and concisely summarizes all relevant and important research evidence about a clinical problem, is updated as new research evidence becomes available, and automatically links (through an electronic medical record) a specific patient’s circumstances to the relevant information."


"These include clinical pathways or textbook summaries that
integrate evidence-based information about specific clinical
problems and provide regular updating."

Syntheses: Systematic Reviews

"A synthesis or systematic review is a comprehensive summary of all the research evidence related to a focused clinical question."
[More information on systematic reviews]


“...a synopsis that summarizes the findings of a high-quality systematic review can often provide sufficient information to support clinical action... the synopsis of a single study provides a brief, but often sufficiently detailed, summary of a high-quality study that can inform clinical practice."

Tips for Searching for the Evidence

Cochrane Database
Other databases
Evidence-Based Abstract Journals
Evidence-Based Texts
Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines
Critically Appraised Topics
  • CATmaker (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford University)
  • CATwalk: a guided walk through the process of doing a CAT (University of Alberta Libraries)
  • MacPLUS FS (McMaster Health Knowledge Refinery)
    Only available to McMaster affiliates, please register or login via MedPortal
  • TRIP (Turning Research Into Practice) Database (Clinical Effectiveness Initiative for Wales)
  • SUM Search
Consumer Resources

Other Resources

Resources for Surgery

Evidence-Based Practice Organizations


Need some help? Contact: Liz Bayley
Health Sciences Library, HSC-2B28
Tel: (905)525-9140, ext. 22545