Tag Archives: research

You Got A Problem With That? Try PICO*

IF….

  • The Purpose of evidence-based practice (EBP) =  BEST PATIENT CARE, &
  • The Definition of EBP = Best evidence + Clinical judgment + Patient/Family preferences & values

THEN…How do I get started with EBP to improve patient care?

One of the 1st steps is to identify clearly the clinical issue that needs solving.   One way to do that is by using PICO.*

WHAT IS PICO?   PICO is an acronym to help you clarify the clinical problem & to help you prepare to search the literature for evidence

  • P = Patient population or problem
  • I = Intervention or treatment that you want to try out & is based in best evidence
  • C = Comparison intervention or treatment (This might be some standardized care on your unit; or un-standardized care given by individual nurses based on their individual expertise)
  • O = Outcome you want to achieve.

EXAMPLE:  Let’s say you work with post-op patients and want to speed up patients’ return of normal GI function.  Right now on your unit, patients are NPO post-op progressing to ice chips and so on as their bowel sounds start returning.  But you have 2 concerns: a) some patients’ GI function seems quite slow to return; & b) quicker return to a nutritious diet may speed healing.  You read an article that gum chewing can reduce the time of postoperative ileus.  With that information, here is how your PICO problem would look:

  • P = Postoperative patients with ileus
  • I = Gum chewing postop
  • C = NPO with gradual diet progression when bowel sounds start returning
  • O = Reduce time of postop ileus with sooner return to nutritious eating

CRITICAL THINKING: Now you try it.  What is problem for patients (or nurses) on your unit? Try writing it out in a sentence or two and then put it into PICO format.  You are now on your way with beginning an EBP project that will promote the very BEST PATIENT CARE.

Want to read more on PICO?  Try out

*Note: Some use PICOT that includes “T”.  The “T” stands for the time it will take to show an outcome.  Because the timing does not seem to me relevant to all questions I typically omit it, but you may find it helpful.  If so, use it!

 

EBP: What’s the point? & What is it anyway?*

The next few blogs will focus on how to improve your nursing practice by finding & using the best evidence.

  • 1st– What is the point or goal of evidence-based practice (EBP)? Best patient care.
  • 2nd– What is the definition of Evidence based Practice (EBP)?

Evidence-based Practice (EBP) =

Best evidence(research &/or nonresearch) +

Clinical Expertise +

Patient/family preferences & values

(See http://guides.mclibrary.duke.edu/c.php?g=158201&p=1036021 for more.)

  • 3rd– What should I do step-by-step to use the best evidence in order to give BEST patient care? At Dignity NHMC we use the Iowa model as a step-by-step guide (Titler et al, 2001). (Other readers should check to see if their hospital has adopted a model that they should follow.)   NHMC employees can find a copy of the Iowa model reprinted with permission and other information at S:\Everyone\everyone\EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE-RN Scientist Role.  Additionally NHMC employees can contact the nursing EBP/research facilitator at martha.highfield@dignityhealth.org or extension 3339 for questions or one-to-one help.
  • What is the general process of EBP?Most models include the following elements:
  1. Identify clearly the clinical issue that needs solving.Maybe this is a problem that you’ve encountered in your practice, or maybe it is something you heard about from a colleague or journal. For example, what is the best way to manage injection pain in children?
  2. Find the best evidence. Research is typically regarded as best evidence.  When no research has been done on the topic we can still use expert opinions, case studies, and scientific principles.
  3. Critique the strength of the evidence. This is figuring out how much confidence you have that the research studies are coming to the right conclusions.  If you’re not sure, an NP or CNS could help or point you to another mentor.
  4. Combine (synthesize) all evidence.When research study outcomes contradict each other, then we have to look at which studies are most carefully done.  Again an APN can help.
  5. Write clinical recommendations for your settingbased on best evidence+clinical expertise+patient/family values & preferences.
  6. Try out (or pilot) the clinical recommendationsin your setting using clinical judgment and patient/family preferences and values.
  7. Evaluate the outcomes.
  8. PRN “tweak” your recommendations to improve outcomes& roll out the project to other units if appropriate.
  9. Reinforce the “new & improved” evidence-based practiceso that it is sustained.
  10. Monitor outcomes.

CRITICAL THINKING:  What is one patient-care issue that you think can be improved on your unit?  For example: Reducing post-op ileus? Cutting down on nighttime noise on the unit? Dealing with nurses’ potential alarm fatigue?  Other?   Write the problem out.  Writing it out makes you think it through more clearly so don’t just think it—write it.  Then, STAY TUNED next blog for more on clarifying the problem.

Reference: Titler, M.G., Kleiber, C., Steelman, V.J., Rakel, B.A., Budreau, G., Everett, L.Q., Buckwalter, K.C., Tripp-Reimer, T., Goode, C.J. (2001) The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Quality Care. Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 13(4), 497-509.

*The next few blogs will focus more on how to use research in practice (commonly known as Evidence-based Practice)

If The (EBP Practice Guideline) Shoe Fits, Wear It! Definitely!

If you want to solve a priority clinical problem using the best research evidence out there, you & your team have at least a couple of options:

1) You can DIY (do it yourself), which means finding, critiquing, synthesizing, and translating the research into clinical practice recommendations: OR

2) You can take advantage of experts’ work by finding evidence-based clinical practice guidelines that you can simply adopt or adapt to your setting.

Either option is good, but in this post I want to focus on option #2: Evidence-based practice guidelines.

What are practice guidelines?  Clinical practice guidelines are “systematically developed statements” that help RNs, other providers, and patients to decide on the best course of care. When the guideline authors use research to write them, then we call them evidence-based practice guidelines (http://www.agreetrust.org/resource-centre/practice-guidelines/).

What’s the advantage?  In evidence-based practice guidelines, experts have already done the hard work of finding, critiquing, synthesizing, and translating the research into practice recommendations for you.   You need only to adopt or adapt them to fit your setting, and establish a regular review time to make sure they are supporting excellent care and still in date.

Where can you find EBP practice guidelines to adopt or adapt?  A few places are:

Consider “bookmarking” these sites or adding them to your “favorites” in your internet browser.

You may even find multiple guidelines on your subject.  Then you and your team get to choose the one that BEST fits your setting & solves the clinical problem!  How cool is that?  (Note: The gold standard for critiquing guideline quality is the AGREE II tool, but ….more on that another day.)

Critical thinking exercise

  1. Go to National Guidelines Clearinghouse.
  2. Search for “family presence during resuscitation”
  3. Look at the ENA clinical practice recommendations on that page and see how strong the evidence is to support each one. (You can also take a look at the process of guideline development & the research used to support it.)
  4. Then decide how might you adopt or adapt one of those recommendations in your own setting?
  5. Have an informal conversation with a colleague about your thoughts on this.

If you can use one or more of the recommendations, you have now brought more research evidence into your practice.  Congratulations!!

Ebola or Other Outbreak: When We Can’t or Shouldn’t Experiment

 What do we do to study the cause of disease when we cannot or should not expose people to disease risk (i.e., manipulate the independent variable). For example, while we want to understand Ebola transmission and outcomes, legally and ethically we cannot & should not expose people to Ebola risk factors.   We cannot do Ebola experiments on people.

Thus, we have to observe what happens when nature takes its course. One common research design in which we let disease/nature take its course is a case-control study. What is a case-control study?

Here’s a quick explanation.   The researcher looks for people who have (or had) the disease and then looks back in time at their history of exposure to risk factors for the disease. Those who have been exposed and who did not (or not yet) get the disease are the control subjects. If risk factors for the disease are not well-known then it may be difficult to find control subjects because we would have a hard time telling who was exposed.

Case-control and other studies in which we look back at what happened in the past are called retrospective studies. (In contrast, most nursing studies are prospective studies—in other words they start at the present and move forward. For example, if we were doing research on Ebola symptom management, we would try out symptom management strategies on persons with Ebola and measure into the future how well those strategies work.)

A great flow diagram and clear explanation of case control studies is at http://www.ciphi.ca/hamilton/Content/content/resources/explore/fb_case_v_cohort.html . Check it out!

Critical thinking practice: If you were to design a case-control study related to information in the excerpt below, answer these questions:

  • Who would be the case subjects?  
  • Who would be the control subjects?
  • What are the risk factors?
  • Why would the study be retrospective?

“Ebola virus, a member of the Filoviridae group, is transmitted by direct contact with blood, secretions, or contaminated objects and is associated with high case-fatality rates (28). Investigations of outbreaks in Africa suggest that Ebola infection may be more severe during pregnancy and that mortality rates are higher. Pregnant women infected with Ebola more often have serious complications, such as hemorrhagic and neurologic sequelae, than do nonpregnant patients (31). Unlike risk for death from Lassa fever, which is highest during the third trimester of pregnancy, risk for death from Ebola is similar during all trimesters (33).” (Jamieson et al, 2006, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/11/06-0152_article)

 

“What are you implying?”—the question to ask about Findings*

As you read closer and closer to the end of a research report, you should start asking, “What are the implications of what this researcher found?”   In other words now that the findings show X what is the Y that we do in response?

Sometimes the researcher labels a section IMPLICATIONS. Other times implications are included in the DISCUSSION section.

What implications you look for may depend on your role. Are you a direct, inpatient care RN? Then you want to know what the research implies about the need to maintain or change practice.   Are you in staff development or teaching clinical students? Then you want to know whether this means you should be teaching something or some “how-to” differently.   Management/administrator? Then what does this mean for leadership or organizations. And,…if you’re a researcher, then you want to know what is the next question raised by this study, OR perhaps does this study need to be repeated before we can feel confident in the findings.   (Of course, if you’re a student looking at a study may mean that you are one step closer to completing one of those evidence-based assignment papers.)

If you look carefully, you will see that the researcher tells you what they think the implications are for patient care, education, management, research, students, patients, or others.

Research does not give final answers. Exhilaratingly a research article often raises more questions than it answers—especially because any research project can only narrowly be designed to examine one teeny area of reality.   (OK. Perhaps only researchers would find that thrilling.)

So, as you read think: What do these research findings mean for RN practice?

Critical Thinking Practice: Find the implications in this excerpt from the Discussion section of Brown & McCormack (2005):  The study revealed that accurate and holistic pain assessment for older people were (sic) deficient in the acute surgical setting…. As a number of older people experienced hearing difficulties, it was also possible that patients did not respond because they misunderstood or simply did not hear what they were being asked. Herr and Mobily (1991) suggest that a reliable assessment of the older persons’ pain can be best obtained if they are offered privacy rather than asked to discuss pain in a public location. Whilst this can be difficult to achieve in a ward environment, measures such as drawing the curtains or moving closer to the patient, may afford some improved degree of enhanced communication and privacy for pain assessment. (p.1295)

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*In earlier posts at http://discoveringyourinnerscientist.blogspot.com/ , I summarized what titles, abstracts, introductions, methods, results, and discussions sections of a research report are all about.

NEW site to Discovering Your Inner Scientist

Welcome to my new Discovering Your Inner Scientist blog location–a site focused on nursing evidence-based practice and scientist interests!  This site should be more user-friendly.

The blog remains focused on the interests primarily of staff RNs and is inspired by my colleagues at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

For earlier posts on how to read research, go to http://discoveringyourinnerscientist.blogspot.com/  .   I plan to pick up the discussion here where that site left off, and I will continue to welcome your comments.