Evidence-based medicine (EBM) emphasizes the use of evidence from well designed and conducted research in healthcare decision-making. The term was originally used to describe an approach to teaching the practice of medicine and improving decisions by individual physicians. Use of the term rapidly expanded to include a previously described approach that emphasized the use of evidence in the design of guidelines and policies that apply to populations (“evidence-based practice policies”). It has subsequently spread to describe an approach to decision making that is used at virtually every level of the healthcare system.
Whether applied to medical education, decisions about individuals, guidelines and policies applied to populations, or administration of health services in general, evidence-based medicine advocates that to the greatest extent possible, decisions and policies should be based on evidence, not just the beliefs of practitioners, experts, or administrators.