Skip to main content

Physical Therapy: 1. What is Evidence-Based Medicine?

Use this guide as a starting point for your research in the area of physical therapy as well as topics in general health, physiology and kinesiology.

Understanding EBM

Excellent EBM Tutorial:

(from Duke University Medical Center and Health Sciences Library, UNC-Chapel Hill)

EBM (Evidence Based Medicine)

1. What is EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine)?

EBM 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, D., Rosenberg, W., Gray, J., Haynes, R., & Richardson, W. (1996, January 13). Evidence based medicine: What it is and what it isn't. BMJ, 312(7023), 71-72. Retrieved from

Or another way of defining it...

EBM is "the use of mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm, derived from high-quality research on population samples, to inform clinical decision making in the diagnosis, investigation or management of individual patients."

Sackett, D. and Haynes, B. (1995). On the need for evidence-based medicine. Evidence Based Medicine, 1, 4-5.  Retrieved from

2. How do I read an article?

3. How do I formulate a research question using "PICO"?

4. How do I search for EBM articles?

Why EBM?

What are the essential steps of Evidence-based Medicine?

1. to convert our information needs into answerable questions (i.e. to formulate the problem)

2. to track down, with maximum efficiency, the best evidence with which to answer these questions - which may come from the clinical examination, the diagnostic laboratory, the published literature or other sources

3. to appraise the evidence critically, to assess its validity (closeness to the truth) and usefulness (clinical applicability)

4. to implement the results of this appraisal in our clinical practice

5. to evaluate our performance


Books About EBM