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Evidence-informed pharmacy practice

June 11, 2024
Learning the standards: incorporating evidence-based information into your practice.

The term “evidence” shows up throughout ACP’s draft Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (SPPPT), which are being considered for approval by Council. Specifically, the draft standards set the expectation that regulated members use evidence-based information to make evidence-informed decisions. The draft standards include clear definitions for each term.

Let’s start with evidence-based information, which is defined as “information that is based on research from credible and reliable sources that is applicable to the particular problem or situation being considered.”

When seeking evidence-based information, it is necessary to critically appraise the information and the source. The first step is to identify and access resources to help you make evidence-informed decisions. This process starts by asking the right questions and then finding good information to answer them. Once you have found the information you’re looking for, it’s equally important to evaluate the information and its source.

“There is a lot of evidence out there to support practice decisions, but you have to weigh it,” said Monty Stanowich, ACP’s Policy Lead and Compliance Officer. “Always consider the source of the evidence. It’s not about finding evidence to support your decision—it’s about finding the evidence that is available and evaluating it to help you make informed decisions. As part of this, you need to assess the credibility and reliability of the sources. Googling something is not the same as using known, trusted sources of information.”

Once you have determined that the information you have found is credible, reliable, and relevant to the patient’s unique needs and goals, you may use it to make decisions that are evidence informed, which is defined by the draft standards as “the ongoing process that incorporates best available evidence from research findings, clinical expertise, patient preferences, values, and circumstances to inform decisions that are made about a patient.”

The concepts of evidence-informed practice and decision making are covered specifically in two domains in the draft standards—Domain 4 (Knowledge, skills, and judgement) and Domain 7 (Patient assessment and providing care).

“Making evidence-informed decisions is all about the process,” said Monty. “Decisions are made using the evidence-based information that you’ve found; by looking through the lens of your clinical knowledge, skills, and expertise; and considering the patient’s choices, values, and circumstances.”

In some cases, you may need to dig deep and refer to multiple sources of information to support evidence-informed decision making.

“Even good quality information has its limitations,” said Monty. “You don’t always find the answer you’re looking for in one reference. Sometimes you have to evaluate the information further—the answer isn’t just given to you. Most importantly, you always have to interpret it based on the person in front of you. This is part of providing person-centred care.”

Watch for more information about the draft SPPPT and the draft Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies in future editions of The Link.