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Dental Hygiene

This guide should assist students in the Dental Hygiene program to locate Library materials for research and projects

What is Evidence Based Practice (EBP)?


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

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn'tBMJ. 1996;312(7023):71-72.


Venn diagram representing Evidence Based Practice

The process of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) includes finding evidence to make decisions.


Evidence is one of EBP's 3 parts:

1. Best research/scientific evidence

2. Clinical expertise/experience

3. Patient values and preferences


To identify the best research evidence, you must:

1. Accurately and precisely describe your clinical question

2. Search high quality resources to find the best information to address your question



EBP Online Tutorial

Use this online tutorial from Duke University and the University of North Carolina to better understand EBP. 

Understanding Evidence







This pyramid shows which type of evidence (articles, research, or studies) best support EBP, as a hierarchy. The highest level of evidence are articles called systematic reviews, followed by other types of studies. Sometimes the title of the article will identify which type of source it is.






Systematic Reviews: address a focused clinical question using methods to reduce the likelihood of bias. The rigorous, standardized methodology includes identifying, selecting, appraising and summarizing primary studies. 


Meta-Analysis: A statistical technique for quantitatively combining the results of multiple studies that measure the same outcome into a single pooled or summary estimate.  


Randomized Controlled Trials: An experiment in which individuals are randomly allocated to receive or not receive an experimental diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, or palliative procedure and then followed up to determine the effect of the intervention.

Cohort Studies: An observational study in which a defined group of people (the cohort) is followed over time. The outcomes of people in subsets of this cohort are compared, to examine people who were exposed or not exposed to a particular intervention or other factor of interest. 

Case Control Studies: A study designed to determine the association between an exposure and outcome in which patients are sampled by outcome. Those with the outcome (cases) are compared with those without the outcome (controls) with respect to exposure to the suspected harmful agent. 

Case Series/Case Reports: A descriptive report of one patient (case report) or a collection of patients treated in a similar manner (case series) without a control group. 

Animal Studies/Laboratory Studies: a laboratory experiment using animals or biological speciments to study the development and progression of diseases. These can test how safe and effective new treatments are before they are tested in people. 

Finding Best Evidence

CINAHL and PubMed are the best databases to locate EBP articles. You can limit your search results by article type in each database which is the best way to identify EBP articles. 

**Important Note** The term Evidence Based Practice does not need to be in an article title or description to be Evidence-Based. You are looking at the article type to make that determination.

The video below demonstrates how to locate EBP articles in CINAHL and PubMed. 

PubMed EBP Tutorials