Evidence-based practice: reflections from five European case studies

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Background: Evidence-based practice (EBP) is now the accepted orthodoxy in clinical practice and developed from evidence-based medicine. EBP is based on a specific type of evidence that is derived from studies based on randomised controlled trials (RCT). This type of evidence is suited to acute medical care and is more problematic for other clinicians such as nurses and therapists, particularly when they are situated within community or primary care settings.

Setting: Five stroke care services in England (2), Sweden (2) and Poland (1).

Aims: To reflect on the evidence gained from these case studies to shed light on various aspects of EBP. This paper focuses on three key issues: (1) the importance of context for evidence, (2) the nature of knowledge, and (3) professional hierarchies.

Methods: Five qualitative case studies into stroke care were carried out in England, Sweden and Poland. One hundred and twenty semi-structured interviews were carried out with a range of healthcare staff who provided specialised and nonspecialised stroke care in acute, community and primary care between October 2010 and September 2011. Medical doctors, nurses and different therapists were included in the samples in all five case studies. For this paper, we reflect on some aspects of this work to illuminate the different interprofessional perspectives relating to EBP in stroke care.

Results: The lack of RCT-based evidence in the community and primary care sectors can lead to the clinicians working in these sectors being perceived as having a lower status. Clinicians use both tacit and encoded knowledge to guide their practice and there existed both intra- and interprofessional tensions in these two types of knowledge. The professional hierarchy of stroke teams varies with national context and the role of the nonspecialists is less valued in stroke care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
JournalLondon Journal of Primary Care
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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