The evidence‐based practice (EBP) model appears to have established itself as the principal change driver and discourse for the healthcare sector. This study sets out to identify the emergence of the term EBP in the professional literature to establish an empirical foundation for discussion. The understanding of and relevance to healthcare practitioners in a large South West London hospital are assessed and their views related to the perspective of library and information professionals to assess implications for practice.
An extensive literature search was carried out and the data generated used to produce a growth curve for the literature. A survey of health care professionals using e‐mail and follow‐up interviews was undertaken at the case hospital.
Between 1998 and 2004 the number of papers appearing to discuss the theme increased four‐fold. The first recorded reference was in 1991. The EBP model had strong official and political support in the field. On the user sample there is evidence of resistance to the orthodoxy.
The EBP model – variously adopted by several healthcare agencies – has placed information management at the centre of the care process. In spite of this, there are few definite implications for the role of library and information professionals, since the world of information and the UK NHS itself are continually in a state of flux, and the current EBP dominance may neither strengthen nor safeguard it.
The bibliometric study provides a baseline. The study of healthcare professionals is a case study to add to knowledge of practice.
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