Evidence-based practice has become the standard of care in the 21st century. Evidence-based practice is “the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”1 It requires the integration of a health professional’s clinical expertise, the best available scientific evidence, and patient values and preferences to guide clinical decisions for individual patients.2
According to “Measuring the Quality of Healthcare,” a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, “Current professional knowledge emphasizes that health professionals must stay abreast of the rapidly expanding and changing knowledge base and use such knowledge appropriately.”3 But how can busy health professionals keep current with the ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge and integrate relevant research findings into their everyday clinical practice?
Rheumatology researchers have made significant contributions to improving the evaluation and management of persons with rheumatic diseases. The ARHP is committed to advancing the knowledge and skills of health professionals in order to improve health outcomes for people with or at risk for rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Through its publications and educational programs, ARHP disseminates relevant research findings to health professionals around the world.
The ARHP’s peer-reviewed journal, Arthritis Care & Research, publishes original research and review articles and evidence-based practice guidelines relevant to the care of individuals with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. This publication is a primary source for rheumatology health professionals to review current clinical research relating to their practice. Research on healthcare disparities in rheumatic diseases was the focus of the May 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
Another way to keep abreast of current scientific evidence is by attending the ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting, where rheumatology researchers from around the world present their scientific findings. This year’s meeting promises to be outstanding. The sessions on “What’s New and Noteworthy in 2007: A Review of Rheumatology Research for Health Professionals” and “Arthritis and Manual Therapy: What Is the Evidence” are just two of many sessions presenting current research findings of interest to health professionals from various disciplines. In addition, mentored research poster tours are offered to help clinicians learn to critically analyze research reports.
These are just a few of the ways the ARHP is working to disseminate the best scientific evidence to rheumatology health professionals in order to promote evidence-based practice and improve health outcomes for persons with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.
Karen Kerr is president of the ARHP and a pediatric nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.