Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Answering Clinical Questions


Answering Clinical Questions

Further information

These modules are a guide to the UWA approach to answering clinical questions, an evidence based practice approach.


Reasons for using Evidence Based Practice (EBP)

  1. Health care knowledge grows so rapidly that you will be out of date by the time you ‘memorise the textbook’.
  2. Health care knowledge is now too vast to keep up to date with all the key publications, even in your field.
  3. Today’s information environment allows you to get information ‘just in time’ rather than ‘just in case’.
  4. EBP allows you to individualise the information for your patient’s situation.
  5. EBP teaches you to integrate the best available information with clinical expertise, patient values, and your health care environment.
  6. EBP helps you to challenge dogma and avoids uncritical acceptance of ‘usual practice’.
  7. EBP can be simple, quick, and will give you skills for lifelong learning and up to date practice.

Barriers to using Evidence Based Practice (EBP) to answer clinical questions

Barriers Solutions
Uncritical acceptance of 'usual practice' Learn to question dogma
Failure to recognise and ask clinical questions Practice recognising and asking clinical questions
Perceived lack of time Understanding the resources available to find answers quickly and effectively
Lack of EBP skills Learn these EBP skills here
Lack of access to information resources The internet removes this barrier - some good quality resources are freely available
Applying the right answer to the wrong patient Remember that the final step in EBP is to consider the individual patient, their values, and your practice setting
Lack of knowledge and support from colleagues for an EBP approach Explain, teach, and model EBP approach in your practice

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS (1996) Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. British Medical Journal 312, 7023: 71-2.