Skip to Main Content

The Clinical Inquiry Process Resource Guide

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.

Research v. EBP v. PI/QI

Research v. EBP v. Performance Improvement / Quality Improvement

When it comes to Clinical Inquiry, the presence or absence of evidence determines the direction the process will take. The graphic below offers additional insight. Upon examining the Clinical Inquiry Process Diagram, you will observe that your response to the question, 'Is there adequate evidence?' will dictate the path you follow.

Chart: Research v. EBP v. PI/QI




(Creation of New Knowledge)


Evidence-Based Practice

(Change in Practice)


Performance Improvement

(Process Improvement)



Knowledge Creation

Evidence Translation

Process Revision/Enhancement


Addresses gap in evidence

           Addresses gap in the translation                   of evidence

Addresses gap in the current process


Generate new knowledge or test an intervention or concern based on theory and uses rigorous methods (Hedges, 2006).

The use of the best available evidence to guide decision-making in clinical practice.  (Krugman, 2008).

The process by which individuals work together to improve systems and processes with the intention to improve outcomes (Newhouse, 2007).


Answer a question for which there is not adequate evidence.

To generate new knowledge within the broader scientific community to produce knowledge that is    generalized beyond the study sample (Hedges, 2006). 

To change practice in order to improve processes or patient care.

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.)

Improve or enhance internal processes and practices within a specific patient group or organization (Hedges, 2006). 

To compare the organization to standards or benchmarks.

Problem-Solving System

Scientific Method

Qualitative or  Quantitative Methods 



Other Question Structures/Formats

Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA)

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)





Data Sources

Primary and Secondary  Data / Evidence 

Critical appraisal of  internal and   external sources of data


Local practice assessment

Appraisal and the use of the evidence

Interpretation of Data Sources


Support Resources

Nurse Clinicians  & Managers

Advanced Practice Nurses

Office of Clinical Research

Nursing Research Advisory Council

School of Nursing

Nursing Research & EBP Leadership Council

Office of Clinical Research 

EBP Mentors 

Nurse Clinician

Clinical Nurse III, IV, V 

EBP Translation Committee

Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Leadership Council

Nursing Interns & Scholars Program 

Nurse Clinician

Nurse Manager

Clinical Nurse III, IV, V 

Performance Improvement, Department

Nursing Quality Outcomes Council 



Generate new knowledge for practice

Add to the knowledge base

Change practice

Impact practice

Translates the knowledge


Improve patient care processes

Improve processes in unit and organization

Incorporates new knowledge


Translation of Findings

Local adoption/application at the unit  or hospital level.

Presentations to Units, Practice Councils and Other Hospital Groups 



Podium presentations


Practice change that becomes hospital       or unit policy.

Presentations to Units, Practice Councils and Other Hospital Groups 



Podium presentations

Standardization of practices, products, and treatments

Presentations to Units, Practice Councils and Other Hospital Groups 



Podium presentations


Does location from the hospital impact follow up treatment for breast cancer patients?

Positioning in the operating room to  prevent pressure ulcers.

Early mobilization to prevent pneumonia.

Improvement of the discharge times of patients.

Improving patient satisfaction.



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

Kloda, L. A., & Bartlett, J. C. (2013). Formulating Answerable Questions: Question Negotiation in Evidence-based Practice. Journal   of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (JCHLA), 34(2), 55-60. doi:10.5596/c13-019

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. 

Useful Handout