Category Archives: research

More? Not always better! Check out NNT.

EBPPractice based in evidence (EBP) means that you must critique/synthesize evidence and then apply it to particular setting and populations using your best judgement.  This means that you must discriminate about when (and when NOT) to apply the research.  Be sure to use best professional judgment to particularize your actions to the situation!

Add to your repertoire of EBP tools,  ratiothe Number Needed to Treat (NNT).   This is not mumbo -jumbo.   NNT explained here–short & sweet: 

FindingsCRITICAL THINKING:   Check out this or other analyses at the site.  How does the info on antihypertensives for mild hypertension answer the question of whether more is better?  Are there patients in whom you SHOULD treat mild HTN?  (“We report, you decide.”)

MORE INFO:  Check out what the data say about other risk/benefit treatments at 


Goldilocks and the 3 Levels of Data

Actually when it comes to quantitative data, there are 4 levels, but who’s counting? (Besides Goldilocks.)

  1. Nominal  (categorical) data are names or categories: (gender, religious affiliation, days of the week, yes or no, and so on)
  2. Ordinal data are like the pain scale.  Each number is higher (or lower) than the next but the distances between numbers are not equal.  In others words 4 is not necessarily twice as much as 2; and 5 is not half of 10.
  3. Interval data are like degrees on a thermometer.  Equal distance between them, but no actual “0”.  0 degrees is just really, really cold.
  4. Ratio data are those  with real 0 and equal intervals (e.g., weight, annual salary, mg.)

(Of course if you want to collect QUALitative word data, that’s closest to categorical/nominal, but you don’t count ANYTHING.  More on that another time.)

CRITICAL THINKING:   Where are the levels in Goldilocks and the 3 levels of data at this link: ?? Would you measure soup, bed, chairs, bears, or other things differently?  Why was the baby bear screaming in fright?

Creation & Use of Evidence: Different!

The difference between research and evidence-based practice (EBP) can sometimes be confusing, but the contrast between them is sharp.  I think most of the confusion comes because those implementing both processes measure outcomes.  Here are differences:

  • RESEARCH :  The process of research (formulating an answerable question, designing project methods, collecting and analyzing the data, and interpreting themagnifyingGlassmeaning of results) is creating knowledge (AKA creating research evidence).  A research project that has been written up IS evidence that can be used in practice.  The process of research is guided by the scientific method.
  • EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE:   EBP is using existing knowledg(AKA using EBPresearch evidence) in practice.  While researchers create new knowledge,

The creation of evidence obviously precedes its application to practice.  Something must be made before it can be used.  Research obviously precedes the application of research findings to practice.  When those findings are applied to practice, then we say the practice is evidence-based.

A good analogy for how research & EBP differ & work together can be seen in autos.

Creating a car!


  • Designers & factory workers create new cars.

    Using a car!
  • Drivers use existing cars that they choose according to preferences and best judgments about safety.



CRITICAL THINKING:   1) Why is the common phrase “evidence-based research” unclear?  Should you use it?  Why or why not?  2) What is a clinical question you now face. (e.g., C.Diff spread; nurse morale on your unit; managing neuropathic pain) and think about how the Stetler EBP model at  might help.  Because you will be measuring outcomes, then why is this still considered EBP.

What IS research!!??

WHAT IS RESEARCH?   Take < three minutes to check out: .  Listen for what research is and 2 basic ways to approach the man-person-legs-grass.jpganswers to a research question: “Why is the sky blue?”

CRITICAL THINKING:  What is a recent problem you’ve experienced in clinical practice?  Write out a positivist question and an interpretist research question related to that same clinical problem.

Write Away!

Want to know the standardized format for writing up your research study, QI report, Writing1case study, systematic review, or clinical practice guideline?    Check out these standardized reporting guidelines:

Of course you should always give priority to the author instructions for the particular journal in which you want to publish, but most adhere generally or fully to these standardized guides.

Write away!

“Please answer….” (cont.)

What do people HATE about online surveys?   If you want to improve your response rates, check out SurveyMonkey Eric V’s (May Mail2017)  Eliminate survey fatigue: Fix 3 things your respondents hate 

For more info: Check out my earlier post “Please Answer!”

Missing in Action: The Pyramid foundation

Last post I commented on the potentially misleading terms of Filtered & Unfiltered Filtered Unfiltered jpgresearch.  My key point?  Much so-called “unfiltered research” has been screened (filtered) carefully through peer-review before publication; while some “filtered research”  may have been ‘filtered’ only by a single expert & be out of date. If we use the terms filtered and unfiltered we should not be naive about their meanings. (Pyramid source:  Wikimedia Commons )

This week, I address what I see as a 2nd problem with this evidence based medicine pyramid.  That is, missing in action from it are descriptive, correlation, & in-depth qualitative research are not mentioned.  Where are they?  This undercuts the EBM pyramid as a teaching tool and also (intentionally or not) denigrates the necessary basic type of research on which stronger levels of evidence are built.  That foundation of the pyramid, called loosely “background information,” includes such basic, essential research.

Ask an ExpertYou may have heard of Benner’s Novice to Expert  theory.  Benner used in-depth, qualitative interview descriptions as data to generate her theory.  Yet that type of research evidence is missing from medicine’s pyramid!  Without a clear foundation the pyramid will just topple over.  Better be clear!

I recommend substituting (or at least adding to your repertoire) an Evidence Based NURSING (EBN) pyramid.  Several versions exist & one is below that includes some of the previously missing research!  This one includes EBP & QI projects, too! Notice the explicit addition of detail to the below pyramid as described at

Critical thinking:  #1List some EBM & EBN pyramid differences.  #2 Figure out where on the hierarchy this project would go: Crowell, J., OʼNeil, K., & Drager, L. (2017). Project HANDS: A bundled approach to increase short peripheral catheter dwell time. Journal of Infusion Nursing, 40(5), 274-280. doi: 10.1097/NAN.0000000000000237.   1st use medicine’s EBM pyramid; & then 2nd use nursing’s EBN pyramid.  #3 Label Crowell et al.’s study as filtered or unfiltered and explain what you mean by that.

For more info:  Watch the YouTube video at the link above.