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Does evidence-based practice improve patient outcomes

Emparanza, J. I., Cabello, J. B. & Burls, A. (2015). Does evidence-based practice improve patient outcomes. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 21(6), pp. 1059-1065. doi: 10.1111/jep.12460/full


Evidence based practice (EBP) is widely promoted, but does EBP practice produce better patient outcomes? We report a natural experiment when part of the internal medicine service in a hospital was reorganized in 2003 to form an EBP unit, the rest of the service remaining unchanged. The units attended similar patients until 2012 permitting comparisons of outcomes and activity.

We used routinely collected statistics (2004 11) to compare the two different methods of practice and test whether patients being seen by the EBP unit differed from standard practice (SP) patients. Data were available by doctor and year. To check for differences between the EBP and SP doctors prior to reorganization, we used statistics from 2000 2003. We looked for changes in patient outcomes or activity following reorganization and whether the EBP unit was achieving significantly different results from SP. Data across the periods were combined and tested using Mann-Whitney.

No statistically significant differences in outcomes were detected between the EBP and the SP doctors prior to reorganization.

Following the unit’s establishment, the mortality of patients being treated by EBP doctors compared to their previous performance dropped from 7.4% to 6.3% (P<0.02) and length of stay from 9.15 to 6.01 days (P=0.002). No statistically significant improvements were seen in SP physicians’ performance.

No differences in the proportion of patients admitted or their complexity between the services were detected. Despite this, EBP patients had a clinically significantly lower risk of death 6.27% vs 7.75% (P<0.001) and a shorter length of stay 6.01 vs 8.46 days (P<0.001) than SP patients. Readmission rates were similar: 14.4% (EBP); 14.5% (SP).

EBP doctors attended twice as many patients/doctor as SP doctors.

The EBP unit was associated with better patient outcomes and more efficient performance than achieved by the same physicians previously or by SP concurrently.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Emparanza, J. I., Cabello, J. B. & Burls, A. Does evidence-based practice improve patient outcomes. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Publisher Keywords: Evidence-based practice; evidence-based health care; evidence-based medicine; service evaluation; natural experiment; service reorganization; #EBPimpact
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
[thumbnail of Evidence that EBP improves patient care Emparanza Cabello Burls pre-publication copy for CRO.pdf]
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