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Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)

What is Evidence-Based Medicine?

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)


A significant development in modern medical research and practice has been that of evidence-based medicine (EBM).

Greenhalgh (2019) and Kaura and Polmear (2013) have written accessible and informative texts on EBM.  Cullum et al. (ed.) (2008) have written on evidence-based nursing, and Phelps, Hyde and Wolf (eds.) (2018) look at evidence-based nursing and the nature of library or online research skills (information literacy).

Straus et al. (2018) is a recommended text. 


Sackett et al. (1996) developed a noted definition, further developed by Greenhalgh (2019).

Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.

(Sackett et al., 1996, p. 71)

Evidence‐based medicine is the use of mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm, derived from high‐quality research on population samples, to inform clinical decision‐making in the diagnosis, investigation or management of individual patients.

(Greenhalgh, 2019, p. 1)

About this guide

This is an introductory guide to EBM.  For detailed information and guidance, consult the sources signposted throughout the guide, and speak with tutors, supervisors and researchers.
A number of resources indicated in this guide may require institutional subscriptions.  University of Birmingham staff or students should follow links and sign in to FindIt@Bham, the library resource discovery tool, to enable full access. 

Cullum, N., Ciliska, D., Haynes, R.B. and Marks, S. (eds.) (2008) Evidence-based nursing: an introduction Oxford: Blackwell. 

Greenhalgh, T. (2019) How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine and healthcare. 6th edn. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.  

Kaura, A. and Polmear, A. (2013)  Evidence-based medicine: reading and writing medical papers.   Edinburgh: Elsevier. 

Phelps, S., Hyde, L. and Wolf, J.P. (eds.) (2018) The intersection: where evidence-based nursing and information literacy meetCambridge, MA: Chandos.

Sackett, D.L., Rosenberg, W.M., Gray, J.A., Haynes R.B. and Richardson, W.S. (1996) 'Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't', BMJ (Clinical Research ed.) Vol. 312(7023): pp. 71-72. doi: 10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71

Straus, S.E., Glasziou, P., Richardson, W.S. and Haynes, R.B. (2018) Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM. 5th edn. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 

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