VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Evidence-Based Practice Portfolio

The goal of this guide is to provide nurses and others a resource to understand and carryout the steps of performing a EBP project.

VCU Health

Updated:  December 31, 2015 


This section will help you define the difference between Performance Improvement, Evidence Based Practice and Research. (Performance Improvement may also be referred to as Quality Improvement). It provides additional detail in order to accurately classify your project. 

Place on Diagram

Comparison of Evidence-Based Practice, Quality Improvement and Nursing Research


Performance Improvement

Evidence Based Practice

Nursing Research


  • Process by which individuals work together to improve systems and processes with the intention to improve outcomes (Newhouse, 2007).
  • A data-driven systematic approach to improve care locally (Newhouse, 2007).
  • It is a cyclic process designed to evaluate work flow and work processes (Hedges, 2006). 
  • Best available evidence to guide decision-making in clinical practice.  The use of knowledge gained from rigorous, systematic randomized clinical trials (RCTs), so that study results can be translated into practice (Krugman, 2008).
  • Generate new knowledge or test an intervention or concern based on theory and uses rigorous methods (Hedges, 2006).




  • Improve internal processes and practices within a specific patient group or organization (Hedges, 2006). 
  • To compare the organization to standards or benchmarks.
  • To increase cost-effectiveness.
  • Evaluate the evidence along a continuum to identify the strongest or best evidence to guide nursing practice within an organizational setting and with a specific patient population (Hedges, 2006.)
  • To generate new knowledge within the broader scientific community to produce knowledge that is generalizable beyond the study sample (Hedges, 2006). 
  • Answer a research question.

Problem-Solving System


  • Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA)
  • Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)
  • Scientific method
  • Research question/hypothesis methods
  • Interpretation of data
  • Dissemination of findings
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research


  • No
  • No/Yes
  • Yes

Data Sources

  • Local practice assessment
  • Critical appraisal of  internal and external sources of data
  • Primary/secondary data



  • Clinician (local), performance improvement, department (health system), Nursing Quality Outcomes Council (nursing level)
  • EBP mentors and EBP Translation Committee
  • Clinician (local), nursing research facilitator, Nursing Research Advisory Council, SON

Impact on



  • Improve patient care processes
  • Improve processes in unit and organization
  • Incorporates the new knowledge
  • Change practice
  • Impact practice
  • Translates the knowledge
  • Generate new knowledge for practice
  • Add to professional literature/ knowledge base

Translation of Findings

  • Standardization of practices, products, and treatment
  • Publications, poster, and podium presentations
  • Recommendations disseminated at the nursing unit level, throughout VCUHS, and at local and national professional meetings.
  • Professional publications
  • May be applied locally at the nursing unit level, throughout VCUHS, and at local and national professional meetings.
  • Professional publications

Resources for Presentation/ Dissemination of Findings

  • Performance Improvement Poster Template
  • EBP Poster Template
  • Magnet Empirical Outcomes template
  • Research Poster Template
  • VCUHS Abstract Template


  • Improvement of the discharge times of patients.
  • Decreasing infections associated with central venous catheters.
  • Improving patient satisfaction.
  • Decreasing pressure sores with the use of pressure dressings.
  • Best practice for tracheostomy dressing.
  • Positioning in the OR to prevent pressure ulcers.
  • Early mobilization to prevent pneumonia.
  • Do women delay reporting symptoms of heart attack more than men?
  • Does location from the hospital impact follow up treatment for breast cancer patients?
  • Does quality of life outcomes in heart transplant patients from pre-transplant to 5 years post-transplant differ?



Hedges, C. (2006). Research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 17 (4) 457-459.

Kurgman, M. (2008). Evidence-based practice. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 137-139.

Newhouse, R. (2007). Diffusing confusion among evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and research. Journal of Nursing Administration, 37(10) 432-435.