Evidence-based practice is an approach to health care where occupational therapists use the best evidence when working with clients, i.e., most appropriate to make clinical decisions. Occupational therapists must critically evaluate information from various sources and use clinical reasoning skills to decide which particular treatment or intervention is in the client's best interests. Clinical reasoning is also a critical process to determine issues related to occupational performance.
Sackett et al. have proposed a sequence of steps to help facilitate evidence-based practice, which includes:
Identify clinical questions relevant to your needs: possible questions address the effectiveness of interventions, which assessments apply to a client, the short and long terms outcomes of therapy, and common issues that clients might experience.
Complete a literature search to find information: occupational therapists complete a literature search from the published data to identify the extent of quality references on a specific topic.
Critically appraise the research: examine if the study uses the appropriate methodology and determine if the results are clinically significant to the client.
Consider how the information will be used when working with the client: does the evidence support the client and their context (person, occupation, and environment).
Evaluate: reflect on the use and impact of evidence-based practice. What worked and what didn't work? What would you change next time?
Sackett DL, Richardson WS, Rosenberg WM, Haynes RB. (1997). Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM. 1st ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone.