Evidence-Based Medicine: What Is It and How Does It Apply to Athletic Training?

J Athl Train. 2004 Mar;39(1):83-87.


OBJECTIVE: To introduce the concept of evidence-based medicine (EBM) to athletic trainers. This overview provides information on how EBM can affect the clinical practice of athletic training and enhance the care given to patients. DATA SOURCES: We searched the MEDLINE and CINHAL bibliographic databases using the terms evidence-based medicine and best practice and the online Index to Abstracts of Cochrane Reviews by group (injury, musculoskeletal injuries, and musculoskeletal) to identify reviews on topics pertinent to athletic training. DATA SYNTHESIS: Evidence-based medical practice has 5 components: defining a clinically relevant question, searching for the best evidence, appraising the quality of the evidence, applying the evidence to clinical practice, and evaluating the process. Evidence-based medicine integrates the research evidence, clinician's expertise, and patient's preferences to guide clinical decision making. Critical to this effort is the availability of quality research on the effectiveness of sports medicine techniques. Athletic training outcomes research is lagging behind that of other health care professions. RECOMMENDATIONS: Athletic trainers need to embrace the critical-thinking skills to assess the medical literature and incorporate it into their clinical practice. The profession should encourage more clinically related research and enhance the scientific foundation of athletic training. Evidence-based medicine provides an important next step in the growth of the athletic training profession.