Exploring How Evidence is Used in Care Through an Organizational Ethnography of Two Teaching Hospitals.

Research paper by Bryn B Lander, Ellen E Balka

Indexed on: 28 May '19Published on: 29 Mar '19Published in: Journal of medical Internet research


Numerous published articles show that clinicians do not follow clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). However, a few studies explore what clinicians consider evidence and how they use different forms of evidence in their care decisions. Many of these existing studies occurred before the advent of smartphones and advanced Web-based information retrieval technologies. It is important to understand how these new technologies influence the ways clinicians use evidence in their clinical practice. Mindlines are a concept that explores how clinicians draw on different sources of information (including context, experience, medical training, and evidence) to develop collectively reinforced, internalized tacit guidelines. The aim of this paper was to explore how evidence is integrated into mindline development and the everyday use of mindlines and evidence in care. We draw on ethnographic data collected by shadowing internal medicine teams at 2 teaching hospitals. Fieldnotes were tagged by evidence category, teaching and care, and role of the person referencing evidence. Counts of these tags were integrated with fieldnote vignettes and memos. The findings were verified with an advisory council and through member checks. CPGs represent just one of several sources of evidence used when making care decisions. Some forms of evidence were predominately invoked from mindlines, whereas other forms were read to supplement mindlines. The majority of scientific evidence was accessed on the Web, often through smartphones. How evidence was used varied by role. As team members gained experience, they increasingly incorporated evidence into their mindlines. Evidence was often blended together to arrive at shared understandings and approaches to patient care that included ways to filter evidence. This paper outlines one way through which the ethos of evidence-based medicine has been incorporated into the daily work of care. Here, multiple Web-based forms of evidence were mixed with other information. This is different from the way that is often articulated by health administrators and policy makers whereby clinical practice guideline adherence is equated with practicing evidence-based medicine. ©Bryn Lander, Ellen Balka. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 28.03.2019.