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Physician Assistant

Library resource guide for students in the Physician Assistant program.

EBP's 5-Step Process

A common framework for understanding how to practice Evidence-Based Medicine, is the 5-step Process:

1. Assess  - Start with the patient - a clinical problem or question arises from the care of the patient. 

2. Ask - Construct a well built clinical question. See tabs below for more detail. 

3. Acquire - Select the appropriate resource(s) and conduct a search See tabs below for more detail.

4. Appraise - Appraise that evidence for its validity and applicability. See tabs below for useful resources.

5. Apply - Return to the patient - integrate the evidence with clinical expertise, patient preference and apply it to practice. 

Steps 2 - 4

Construct a well built clinical question derived from the case. The most commonly used model for clinical questions is PICO

PICO Model of question formation.

For more on constructing a good question, visit the Resources for Evidence-Based Practice Guide: Forming Questions

Select the appropriate resource(s).... 

How do you find the best research evidence when there are millions of articles, journals and clinical guidelines to choose from? Using a hierarchy of "pre-processed" information can be very useful for selecting resources. See our Resources for Evidence-based Practice Guide for more on the 6S Pyramid of evidence.

...and conduct a search.

Depending on the resource you've selected to search, you will apply your question's concepts in different ways. When searching a large database of articles, such as OVID Medline, you'll need more advanced searching skills. Try watching some of our Database searching tutorials to help you with your search. 


Appraise that evidence for its validity and applicability. Below are two very useful resources for appraising the validity of the resources and evidence you've acquired.