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Evidence-Based Practice Hierarchy and Resources


"Evidence-Based Medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values." 
(Sackett DL, Straus SE, Richardson WS, et al. Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.)

When conducting EBP research on your topic or clinical question, it is important to consider the study methodology and corresponding quality of evidence that you find. The pyramid below reflects the hierarchy of evidence in the medical and scientific literature.  Scroll down the page to see which resources you can use to find the various types of studies and review articles listed in the pyramid.

EBM pyramid

TRIP (Turning Research Into Practice) Database Plus

Simultaneously searches evidence-based sources of systematic reviews, practice guidelines, and critically-appraised topics and articles -- including most of those listed above and many more. Also searches MEDLINE's Clinical Queries, medical image databases, e-textbooks, and patient information leaflets.


Filtered Resources


Systematic Reviews / Meta-Analyses


The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Consists of detailed, structured topic reviews of hundreds of articles. Teams of experts complete comprehensive literature reviews, evaluate the literature, and present summaries of the findings of the best studies. Published by the International Cochrane Collaboration.


The Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effect (DARE)

Full-text database containing structured abstracts of systematic reviews from a variety of medical journals. DARE is produced by the National Health Services' Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (NHS CRD) at the University of York. DARE records cover topics such as diagnosis, prevention, rehabilitation, screening, and treatment.


Systematic Reviews are also searchable in MEDLINE:

  • Ovid MEDLINE: Enter your search query > click the Additional Limits icon > select Systematic Reviews.
  • PubMed MEDLINE: Enter a search query > go to Article Types in the left-hand menu > select More... > select Systematic Reviews so that this option appears in the menu > select Systematic Reviews to filter your results. Or, from the main PubMed search screen, select "Clinical Queries" in the middle column > enter a search query > artices that are considered Systematic Reviews are listed in the center of the results page. 


Critically-Appraised Topics


ACP Smart Medicine

A Web-based decision-support tool designed for rapid point-of-care delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based guidance for clinicians. Content is divided into five topic types (Diseases, Screening and Prevention, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Ethical and Legal Issues, and Procedures) and includes strength-of-recommendation ratings based on the quality of the underlying evidence. From the American College of Physicians.

BMJ Clinical Evidence

Summarizes the current state of knowledge about the prevention and treatment of clinical conditions, based on thorough searches and appraisal of the literature. Describes the best available evidence from systematic reviews, RCTs, and observational studies where appropriate.

National Guideline Clearinghouse

A comprehensive database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related documents produced by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. Updated weekly.

Note: Guideline evidence varies from expert opinion to high levels of evidence.

Critically-Appraised Individual Articles


The ACP Journal Club

The editors of this journal screen the top 100+ clinical journals and identify studies that are methodologically sound and clinically relevant. An enhanced abstract, with conclusions clearly stated, and a commentary are provided for each selected article. Published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.


Unfiltered Resources



To limit your PubMed search to the best evidence-producing studies, click on "Clinical Queries" under PubMed Tools (in the middle column of the screen). This specialized search is intended for clinicians and has built-in search filters. Five study categories--therapy, diagnosis, etiology, prognosis, clinical prediction guides--are provided. You can also limit your search to various study types (systematic reviews, cohort, randomized controlled trials, etc.). From the PubMed search screen, enter a search query > go to Article Types in the left-hand menu > select More... > select the types of studies that wish to appear appear as optional filters on your results page. 


To limit your Ovid MEDLINE search to the best evidence-producing studies, enter your search query > click the Additional Limits icon > select Evidence Based Medicine Reviews or Systematic Reviews.”


Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature

Limit your CINAHL search to the best evidence-producing studies by choosing various filters in the Search Options section of the page (e.g. select Evidence Based Practice, or choose a specific type of study from the Clinical Queries or Publication Type menus).


A large abstract and citation database that includes biomedical literature (100% of the MEDLINE records), as well as journals in the life and social sciences. Limit your search to Articles under the Document Type filter. ”

Background Information/Expert Opinion

Note: Evidence in these resources may vary from expert opinion to high levels of supported evidence.


A clinical information resource, which offers up-to-date, fully referenced expert answers to patient-care, diagnosis, and treatment questions. Topic reviews are written by recognized authorities who review the topic, synthesize the evidence, summarize key findings, and provide specific recommendations.


Physician authors and editors contribute to the eMedicine Clinical Knowledge Base, which contains articles on 7,000 diseases and disorders. The evidence-based content provides the latest practice guidelines in 62 medical specialties. eMedicine's professional content undergoes multiple levels of physician peer review.


Full-text electronic books.


EBM Pyramid and EBM Page Generator, copyright 2006 Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University. All Rights Reserved.
Produced by Jan Glover, David Izzo, Karen Odato and Lei Wang.

EBP Search Forms

Use these forms to better define your own research question and search strategy.

Critical Appraisal

CEBM Resources

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (Oxford) provides several resources that take you through the entire EBM process, from formulating questions to evaluating the literature to making informed clinical decisions.

Need help searching?

Contact a librarian if you would like some help searching for information on your topic or tracking down the full text of an article. That's why we're here!