VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Evidence-Based Practice Portfolio

The goal of this guide is to provide nurses a resource to understand and carryout the steps of performing an evidence-based practice (EBP) project.

Difference between EBP, Research and Performance Improvement - Place on Diagram


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. 


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.