Narrowing the evidence-practice gap
Healthcare research is conducted daily around the world and we often see headlines published on a single topic in newspapers or broadcast on the news. Some of these findings are nothing short of amazing, disc regeneration for example, but most studies provide small steps forward to improve prevention opportunities and recovery time. While most research papers do not garner airtime due to the volume of research, this should not dismiss their significance. But how do we get the attention of the public, or more importantly, the health professional when it comes to these types of studies?
Dr. André Bussières DC, PhD holds the CCRF Professorship in Rehabilitation Epidemiology at McGill University. His goal is to develop methods and resources to narrow what some call the evidence-practice gap. This “gap” refers to published comprehensive research and what is practiced by the healthcare provider in the clinic setting. Dr. Bussières says that 30-40% of patients do not receive the best care as a result of this “gap”, so patients aren’t receiving care that is reflective of the latest research. Knowledge transfer is an extremely tricky process and it usually takes a long time to convey the latest best practices to clinicians.
One of the reasons why communication is so difficult is because the research is scattered throughout many different journals and publications. To help centralize the information, Dr. Bussières and his team at McGill plan to look at all of the evidence and research available for a given condition or therapy. Once the review is complete and the research is scrutinized, qualifying studies are synthesized into one comprehensive document (also known as a Clinical Practice Guideline or CPG) that explains the research resources and demonstrates best practices supported by the research at that time. This creates somewhat of a road map that the health professional can use to assist with diagnosis and treatment. In addition, CPGs can reinforce a doctor’s experience with patients in practice (practice based evidence) through evidence-based research (what is learnt in the lab).
Comprehensive CPGs can be very useful in the transfer of knowledge and support best practices in the clinic setting. These resources are also valuable when discussing expected outcomes and recovery times with insurance providers or patients themselves. The public is more informed about their health now than ever before so it is plausible that patients will have questions and ask for reassurance when receiving a diagnosis and recommended care.