OBJECTIVES: Healthcare professionals are expected to firmly ground their practice in sound evidence. That implies that they know and use evidence-based medicine (EBM). In this study, our aim was to know how often health professionals actually made use of EBM in their daily practice.
DESIGN: A questionnaire survey of healthcare professionals.
PARTICIPANTS: Healthcare professionals who attended six university postgraduate courses. 226 answered the questionnaire (144 physicians, 64 nurses and 24 pharmacists; response rate 63.3%).
SETTING: 56.5% of respondents worked in hospitals (mostly non-teaching), 25.0% in nursing homes and 10.2% in primary care. All participants were French-speaking and lived in France or Switzerland.
MEASURES: Declared degree of knowledge and use of EBM, use of EBM-related information sources.
RESULTS: Overall, 14.2% of respondents declared to use EBM regularly in their daily practice and 15.6% declared to use EBM only occasionally. The remaining respondents declared they: knew about EBM but did not use it (33.1%), had just heard about EBM (31.9%) or did not know what EBM is (4.0%). Concerning the use of EBM-related information sources, 83.4% declared to use at least monthly (or more often) clinical guidelines, 47.1% PubMed, 21.3% the Cochrane Library and 6.4% other medical databases.Fewer pharmacists (12%) declared to use EBM in their practice than nurses (22%) or doctors (36%). No difference appeared when analysed by gender, work setting or years after graduation. The most frequent obstacles perceived for the practice of EBM were: lack of general knowledge about EBM, lack of skills for critical appraisal and lack of time.
CONCLUSIONS: Only a minority of health professionals-with differences between physicians, nurses and pharmacists-declare to regularly use EBM in their professional practice. A larger proportion appears to be interested in EBM but seems to be deterred by their lack of knowledge, skills and personal time.