Background Healthcare today is a complex system with increasing needs of specific knowledge of evaluation of research and implementation into clinical practice. A critical issue is that we all apply evidence-based practice (EBP) with standardised methods and continuing and systematic improvements. EBP includes both scientific and critical assessed experience-based knowledge. For the individual, this means applying evidence-based knowledge to a specific situation, and for the organisation, it means catering for a systematic critical review and evaluation and compiling research into guidelines and programmes. In 2009, the County Council of Jönköping had approximately 335 000 inhabitants and the healthcare organisation had more than 10 000 employees. As the County Council actively promotes clinical improvement, it is interesting to explore how healthcare employees think about and act upon EBP. The aim of this survey was therefore to describe factors that facilitate or hinder the application of EBP in the clinical context.
Method A quantitative study was performed with a questionnaire to healthcare staff employed in the County Council of Jönköping in 2009. The questionnaire consisted of questions concerning which factors are experienced to affect the development of evidence-based healthcare. There were 59 open and closed questions, divided into the following areas:
- • Sources of knowledge used in practice
- • Barriers to finding and evaluating research reports and guidelines
- • Barriers to changing practice on the basis of best evidence
- • Facilitating factors for changing practice on the basis of best evidence
- • Experience in finding, evaluating and using different sources of evidence
The participants were selected using the county council's staff database and included medical, caring and rehabilitative staff within hospitals, primary care, dentistry and laboratory medicine. The inclusion criteria were permanent employment and clinical work. Invitations were sent to 5787 persons to participate in the study and 1445 persons answered the questionnaire.
Results Knowledge used in daily clinical practice was mainly based on information about the patient, personal experience and local guidelines. Twenty per cent answered that they worked ‘in the way they always had’, and 11% responded that they used evidence from research as a basis for change. The participants experienced that EBP was not used enough in clinical healthcare and explained this with practical and structural barriers, which they thought should be better monitored by the organisation and directors.
Conclusion Overall, the results indicate that the scientific evidence for healthcare is not used sufficiently as a base for decisions in daily practice as well as for changing practice. This is more prominent among assistant staff. As a consequence, this might affect the care of the patients in a negative way. Increased awareness of EBP and a stronger evidence-based approach are keys in the ongoing improvement work in the county. Local guidelines seem to be a way to implement knowledge. But, as the arena of activities is complex and the employees have diverse education levels, different strategies to facilitate and promote EBP are necessary.
2012. Vol. 10, no 2, 117-125 p.