The book is divided into three sections, but chapters can be used independently.
Each chapter in our book was designed to “stand alone,” such that each chapter can be assigned in any order and does not necessarily proceed from Chapter 1 through Chapter 12. The organization of the content of this book does, however, reflect our teaching process. More important, it reflects the learning process that our students have taught us. Over our years of teaching both separately and together, we have organized our evidence based practice (EBP) course using various sequences of the topics included in this book. Our students have commented on each sequence, and we have reflected on the students’ knowledge and skills achieved through the use of each sequence. Although there is no one sequence that is “best” to teach EBP, we suggest that the novice to EBP benefits from reading Section 1: Finding and Appraising Evidence to Improve Patient Care, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, first and in this order. These chapters provide the basics of identifying clinical questions that can be searched effectively in the literature and the necessary search skills to find the best available research evidence (Chapters 1 and 2). Basic appraisal skills for intervention research that can be combined effectively with clinical expertise and patient goals and values are the topics of Chapters 3 and 4. Many of the basic skills that are developed in Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 can then be applied to specific topic areas found in Section II: Appraising Other Types of Studies: Beyond the Randomized Clinical Trial (Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8). Section II includes, for example, appraisal skills for the diagnostic literature (Chapter 5) and the prognostic literature (Chapter 6). But teachers and learners combine in unique ways, and this book is designed to be used effectively for a variety of teaching and learning styles.
Most chapters include “Digging Deeper” sections. These sections include material that offers depth in a topic and may be considered either optional or required learning material. We designed these for the learner who wants more information on a topic, but with the view that the material presented in these sections may be beyond entry level. We also include “Self-Tests” in most chapters. These should be used as opportunities for learners to reflect on their knowledge and skills in EBP and determine if additional study of a topic is warranted.
The text is abundantly supported with visual information to support EBP concepts. Teachers and learners may find it helpful to concentrate first on the illustrations of a concept and later on the text supporting the concept.
We believe that this book can be used to support the learning of effective and efficient skills to become evidence based physical therapists.