Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Medical Library Association National Annual Meeting

Conference Location

Chicago, IL


Objectives: This project will provide a glimpse of the evolution of evidence based nursing (EBN) practice. Learning about the historical origins of EBN and charting the progress in the past few decades may provide an enhanced appreciation of accomplishments and obstacles, resulting in a deeper understanding of the profession.

Methods: Journal and book literature were reviewed to determine the historical underpinnings of EBN. An examination of the evidence base for hospital nursing practice was performed, primarily through review of book literature. The literature regarding tradition-based practices, or sacred cows, was also explored and summarized. Select EBN leaders at the author's institution were consulted in order to identify unpublished information.

Results: The evidence base for hospital nursing practice has been accumulating at a steady rate since the 1990’s. Examples of areas with an expanding evidence base include pressure ulcer prevention, fall prevention, hospital acquired infection prevention, patient education, and pain assessment and management. Despite the progress made, implementation of practice change is inconsistent and complicated. Publicizing sacred cows is one way of initiating change that has been effective at the author’s institution, and seems to have had a stronger impact in nursing than other health sciences fields.

Conclusions: Equipping information specialists with enhanced understanding of the nursing profession may allow them to strengthen roles as facilitators of EBP. Learning and reflecting on the history of progress in EBN is not only valuable in understanding the culture and needs of this profession; it may also offer insight about how other disciplines evolve in their adoption of evidence-based practices.


evidence-based nursing, research-based nursing, history of nursing


© Jennifer DeBerg, 2014.