Use of evidence-based practice in an aid organisation: a proposal to deal with the variety in terminology and methodology

Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2014 Mar;12(1):39-49. doi: 10.1097/01.XEB.0000444637.88465.a3.


Aim: As part of its strategy Belgian Red Cross-Flanders underpins all its activities with evidence-based guidelines and systematic reviews. The aim of this publication is to describe in detail the methodology used to achieve this goal within an action-oriented organisation, in a timely and cost-effective way.

Methods: To demonstrate transparency in our methods, we wrote a methodological charter describing the way in which we develop evidence-based materials to support our activities. Criteria were drawn up for deciding on project priority and the choice of different types of projects (scoping reviews, systematic reviews and evidence-based guidelines).

Results: While searching for rigorous and realistically attainable methodological standards, we encountered a wide variety in terminology and methodology used in the field of evidence-based practice. Terminologies currently being used by different organisations and institutions include systematic reviews, systematic literature searches, evidence-based guidelines, rapid reviews, pragmatic systematic reviews, and rapid response service. It is not always clear what the definition and methodology is behind these terms and whether they are used consistently. We therefore describe the terminology and methodology used by Belgian Red Cross-Flanders; criteria for making methodological choices and details on the methodology we use are given.

Conclusion: In our search for an appropriate methodology, taking into account time and resource constraints, we encountered an enormous variety of methodological approaches and terminology used for evidence-based materials. In light of this, we recommend that authors of evidence-based guidelines and reviews are transparent and clear about the methodology used. To be transparent about our approach, we developed a methodological charter. This charter may inspire other organisations that want to use evidence-based methodology to support their activities.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Evidence-Based Practice*
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Publications
  • Red Cross*
  • Research Design*
  • Terminology as Topic*