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Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences : Evidence Based Practice

A resource for online and print content in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences for students, faculty and staff.

EBP page overview

This page provides some of the basics related to Evidence Based Practice model and the resources used to discover the literature. It is not comprehensive. There are specific guides and resources that will offer greater detail.

One that you might be interested in is Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis

What is Evidence Based Medicine?

EBM Triad
Triad From: The Florida State University College of Medicine Charlotte Edwards Maguire Medical Library. Evidence Based Medicine Tutorial. "Definition of Evidence Based Medicine."  2011. Accessed 8-6-14.

Filtered Resources

Filtered Resources appraise the quality of studies and often make recommendations for practice. 

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses
Authors of systematic reviews ask a specific clinical question, perform a comprehensive search of the literature, eliminate poorly done studies and make practiced recommendations based on the well-done studies.

A meta-analysis is a systematic review that combines the results of all the studies into one statistical analysis of results.

Critically Appraised Topics
Authors evaluate and synthesize multiple research studies.

Critically Appraised Individual Articles
Authors evaluate individual research studies.


Systematic Reviews
Address a focused clinical question where review authors systematically search for, identify, select, summarize and critically apraise all of the medical research literature available on a specific topic.  Statistical techniques may be used to combine the results of these studies.  The authors clearly state the search methods used to locate these studies.  It is important to examine the search methods used and decide for yourself if it was broad enough to include all of the relevant studies, and if the studies found were relevant to the clinical question.

Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial  (RCT)
An experimental design used for testing the effectiveness of a new medication or a new therapeutic procedure. Individuals are assigned randomly to a treatment group or a control group, and the outcomes are compared. RCT is the most accepted scientific method of determining the benefit of a drug or a therapeutic procedure. It represents the best evidence available, which is integrated into the final decision about the management of a condition by healthcare practitioners in what is called evidence-based healthcare.

Clinical Trial
an experiment performed on human beings in order to evaluate the comparative efficacy of two or more therapies. 

In the Cochrane Library database, the protocol outlines the question that the review authors are addressing, detailing the criteria against which studies will be assessed for inclusion in the review, and describing how the authors will manage the review process.

When results of individual studies are combined to produce an overall statistic.

Review Article
Brings together information about previously published research on a topic.  It provides a critical appraisal of the topic over a period of time. It is helpful in identifying the important literature on a topic. Given the vast amount of scientific literature published, review articles are an excellent tool for researchers wishing to research a topic.

EBP Resources


What is a Literature Review

The literature review summarizes the arguments and ideas of others, and compares existing knowledge on a topic

  • survey of scholarly articles, books, grey literature relevant to an area of research or interest
  • describes, summarizes and critically evaluates each source for its strengths and weaknesses
  • identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic
  • identifies critical gaps or controversies in the literature
  • identifies further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies

The literature review

  • provides the historical background for your research
  • describes theories, debates, issues, concepts and related research in the field
  • will help you narrow your focus to a specific topic or research problem
  • shows how your research will address a gap or extend what is already know

The process

  • select a topic; state it as a well-defined, focused question; write down terms related to your topic; these will come in handy later
  • discuss your topic with your professor if the opportunity arises
  • decide on the scope of your review: how many studies do you need to look at? How many years should it cover? How many sources does the assignment require? How comprehensive should it be? Should you evaluate your sources?
  • search the literature: suggested databases such as PubMed, CINAHL Complete, Web of Science are listed in the Physician Assistant Research Guide.
  • consider what themes or issues connect your sources together; do they present one or different solutions?
  • include Grey Literature sources-: material that is not published commercially, such as reports written by government organizations, theses and dissertations (Dissertations & Theses Global), conference proceedings, annual reviews (collection of chapters written by experts on a specific topic)
  • you don't have to read everything on the topic; cite only the most important, relevant sources