This is a JavaScript menu. Please enable scripts in your browser. Skip to Main Content

Physical Therapy : Evidence Based Practice & PICO

EBP Tutorials & Worksheets

Evidence Pyramid

Image of the Melnyk model of levels of evidence


Evidence Based Practice (EBP)


Evidence based practice (EBP) is the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care (Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000).

It is a problem solving approach to clinical practice and administrative issues that integrates:

  • A systematic search for and critical appraisal of the most relevant evidence to answer a burning clinical question
  • One's own clinical expertise
  • Patient preferences and values (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2014)

Clinical Question and Suggested Research Design(s)

  • All Clinical Questions-Systematic review, meta-analysis
  • Therapy-Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis. Also: cohort study, case-control study, case series
  • Etiology-Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis, cohort study. Also: case-control study, case series
  • Diagnosis-Randomized controlled trial (RCT). Also: cohort study
  • Prevention-Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis. Also: prospective study, cohort study, case-control study, case series
  • Prognosis-Cohort study. Also: case-control study, case series
  • Meaning-Qualitative study
  • Quality Improvement-Randomized controlled trial (RCT). Also: qualitative study
  • Cost-Economic evaluation


Having difficulty figuring out good keywords to use to search for information? Use the PICO mnemonic to help get started on brainstorming possible keywords for searching:

P(patient, population, problem)- age, sex, setting, ethnicity, condition,disease, type of patient, or population

I(intervention)- treatment, medications, education, diagnostic tests or best practice(s)

C(comparison with other interventions or current practice)- may not be applicable if your question is looking for best practice.

O(outcome)- stated in measurable terms, expected outcomes based on the intervention identified, such as decrease in fall rate, decrease in length of stay, increase in patient satisfaction

Source: Dearholt S, Dang D, Sigma Theta Tau I, Institute for Johns Hopkins N. Johns Hopkins Evidence-Based Practice Model And Guidelines, Second Edition [e-book]. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International; 2012. Available from: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 28, 2017.

Chaffey College • 5885 Haven Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737 - 3002 • 909/652-6000
 Powered by Springshare • LibApps LoginFeedbackBI SurveyLibrary Activities