Evidence Synthesis Strategies to Enhance Evidence-Based Practice

Monday, 22 July 2013: 10:45 AM

Susan M. Weeks, DNP, RN, CNS, LMFT, FAAN
Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to define evidence synthesis and differentiate synthesis from summarization.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe forms of synthesized evidence to guide practice.

Evidence-based practice requires multiple steps including the synthesis of evidence.  Despite its importance, the synthesis of evidence is often a misunderstood step.  Without rigorous evidence synthesis, the practice guidance developed may be misguided.  This presentation will define evidence synthesis, differentiate evidence synthesis from a summarization of evidence, and will describe forms of synthesis useful to researchers, educators, and practicing clinicians.

             Evidence synthesis is not a mere summarization of research studies.  Rather, it is a grouping and collating of evidence that creates new knowledge.  Evidence synthesis seeks to answer two significant questions, “What is known about this topic?” and “What is not known about this topic?”  In answering those questions, a new gestalt is formed.

             The purpose of evidence synthesis is to uncover all relevant evidence, integrate empirical research to create generalizations, and to explicitly and exhaustively report the evidence found and the resulting practice guidance.  Synthesized evidence can be found in many formats including evidence summaries, practice guidelines, and systematic reviews.

             This presentation will include the following topics:

  • Purpose of evidence synthesis
  • Synthesis vs. summarization
  • Forms of synthesized evidence

             Developing a clear understanding of evidence synthesis and the related processes supports the implementation of sound practice and leads to practice solutions.  The result can be improved nursing practice leading to enhanced patient outcomes.