Evidence-based Decision Making & Medicine

Evidence-based decision making (EBDM)

Evidence-based decision making (EBDM) is required of all professionals, including those who engage in education (Kowalski & Lasley, 2009), management of businesses, hospitals, and practitioners of nursing and medicine (Baba & Hakem Zadeh, 2014).

In healthcare, "evidence-based practice is not characterized by a particular intervention but rather the process by which decisions are made regarding goals, outcomes, and interventions," (Palisano 2007). Data-driven decision making is the essence of evidence-based decision making (Kowalski & Lasley, 2009).   

It is important that we convey to students the need to make decisions based on what we know and not what we suppose. There is greater emphasis, as well, on shared decision-making with patients, but consulting the ideas and advice of colleagues and supervising physicians is also critical to the process. Below are a few references to articles and books on the general topic of evidence-based decision-making to begin your exploration of this topic.


  • Baba VK & Hakem Zadeh F. Toward a theory of evidence based decision making. Management Decision, 50(5) pp. 832 - 867; 2012.  

  • DiCenso A, Guyatt G & Ciliska D. Evidence-Based Nursing: A Guide to Clinical Practice. Elsevier Mosby:St. Louis, MO; 2005 (partial view avaialble on Google Books).

  • Kowalski T & Lasley TJ (Editors). Handbook of Data-Based Decision Making in Education. Routledge:NY; 2009.

  • Palisano RJ. Evidence-Based Decision Making, Physical & Occupational Therapy In Pediatrics, 27:1, 1-3; 2007.
Evidence-based Medicine (EBM)

"Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients," (Sackett et al. 1996).

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Library offers a variety of tools to assist students and faculty in locating resources appropriate to their clinical or basic science research. One such toolset is the EBM (Evidence-based Medicine) Search Tools.

The EBM Search Tools search scholarly databases and produce results organized according to a hierarchy of reliability. Thus Cochrane systematic reviews, for example, are at the top of the hierarchy. Articles describing anecdotal experience that cannot be generalized or are not the result of systematic study are at the bottom of the hierarchy. To find out more about and start using the EBM Search Tools click on the link below. 

Below are some references to articles or books on the specific topic of evidence-based decision making in medicine. 


  • Bracke PJ, Howse DK & Keim SM. Evidence-based Medicine Search: A customizable federated search engine. J Med Libr Assoc. 96(2): 108–113; 2008

  • Hammer DP, Sauer KA, Fielding DW & Skau KA. White Paper on Best Evidence Pharmacy Education (BEPE). Special Articles. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 68(1) Article 24; 2004.

  • Keim SM, Howse DK, Bracke PJ & Mendoza K. Promoting evidence based medicine in preclinical medical students via a federated literature search tool. Medical Teacher 30:880–884; 2008.
  • Mallon WK, Keim SM, Shoenberger JM & Walls RM. Rocuronium vs. Succinylcholine in the Emergency Department: A Critical Appraisal. The Journal of Emergency Medicine 37(2), August 2009, Pages 183–188; 2009.

  • Sackett, D.L., Rosenberg, W.M.C., Gray, J.A.M. et al. Evidence-based medicine: What it is and what it isn’t. British Medical Journal, 312:71-72; 1996.
  • Whitcomb ME. Why we must teach evidence-based medicine. Academic Medicine 80(1), From the Editor, pp. 1-2; 2011.