Evidence-Based Practice and Occupational Therapy

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In 2000 Sackett et al (2000) recommended that evidence-based medicine is

“the integration of best available evidence, clinical expertise and patient preferences and values”.

This definition focuses therapists on ensuring that they consider the person, environment and their client’s situation including

  • environment and access to resources
  • their client and their families hopes, goals, values and wishes
  • the best available research evidence
  • the clinical expertise of the practitioner

In his original article, Sackett et al defined Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) as

“Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research…

…increased expertise is reflected in many ways, but especially in more effective and efficient diagnosis and in the more thoughtful identification and compassionate use of individual patients’ predicaments, rights, and preferences in making clinical decisions about their care…

…use both individual clinical expertise and the best available external evidence, and neither alone is enough.”

Sacket et al 1996

Evidence-based practice is required to show service commissioners and purchasers that occupational therapists are using treatments supported by research.  This provides assurance that the treatment occupational therapists provide to their clients is based on the latest research before they commission and pay for your services.

AOTA has provided occupational therapists in the United States with evidence-based practice resources to help them to do this through the Evidence-Based Practice Project.

This project integrates critically appraised research results with the clinical expertise, and client’s preferences, beliefs, and values.

Based on systematic reviews from experts in the field, they have provided topic-specific comprehensive reviews of evidence-based findings to support practice.


1. Sackett DL, Richardson WS, Rosenberg W, Haynes RB. Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach. 2. ed. Edinburgh: Churchill-Livingstone, 2000
2. Sackett DL, Rosenberg W, Mc Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence-based medicine: what it is and what it isn’tBMJ, 1996; 312: 71-2