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The ABCs Of EBPs

Change is the only constant. In today’s world, the pace of change has never been faster. This is true in every sector of the workforce. The health care sector has reacted to this ever-increasing pace by adopting Evidence Based Practices (EBP).


September 28, 2009
By Bodhi G Haraldsson RMT

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Change is the only constant. In today’s world, the pace of change has never been faster. This is true in every sector of the workforce. The health care sector has reacted to this ever-increasing pace by adopting Evidence Based Practices (EBP).

We know that the ability of an organization to change and adapt will influence its chance of thriving –  not just surviving – over the long term.

The award-winning futurist and trends expert Jim Carroll, in his article titled ‘How Science Will Change Careers And Associations,’ poses the question: “Is it a good time to scare the heck out of your members?”

Indeed, it might be a great time to shake them out of their complacency with respect to the future.

Carroll goes on to say “…everything we do is touched by science.” And, if science is entering a period of hyper-change, then we too are entering that world. That’s why when I see a statement on the idea of “career extinction” by a leading vocational organization, I believe the idea to be true. I dare not discount the idea
– I think that would be foolhardy.

Whether or not individuals and organizations manage change well depends a great deal on a set of
qualities referred to as “resiliency.”

Resiliency refers to the skills and capabilities of being strong and successful under conditions of change.

Resilient organizations are proactive. They recognize the need for change before it is forced upon them. They create an impetus, a direction. Strategies do not remain stagnant.

Resilient organizations are quick to improvise, make the most of what they have and imagine possibilities and new opportunities. They remain flexible and are positioned to adjust as circumstances change.

Understanding and engaging in EBP might seem daunting at first.

However, we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and start adapting to the changing health care environment.

Evidence Based Practices provide the massage therapy profession with the opportunity to be proactive and understanding of the ever-changing and improving world of research evidence in health care.

An Evidence Based Practice will help massage therapists to “dump” outdated information they’ve learned, and then to acquire new knowledge.

According to David Sackett, MD, who was a part of the McMaster University group that coined the term, EBP is “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care
of individual patients.

The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical experience with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.

Without clinical expertise, a RMT’s practice runs the risk of becoming tyrannized by evidence. For even excellent external evidence may be inapplicable to, or inappropriate for an individual patient.

Without current best evidence, practice risks becoming rapidly out of date, to the detriment of patients.” Using evidence to influence health care practices is nothing new – it has been used now for more than a half a century. The difference is that in EBP, the type and quality of evidence is important.

One of the great successes of EBP has been the development of systematic reviews and meta-analysis, which provide the clinician with a synthesized overview of the best available evidence on any given topic.

Another strength of EBP is that it focuses on Patient Oriented Evidence (POE). POE asks the question. “Does this new evidence impact the patient by changing the prognosis of the illness or increase the quality of life?”

As a profession, we need to come together and create evidence practice guidelines and evidence summaries to guide our practices and keep up with the changing health care environment.


• Bodhi G Haraldsson RMT is the Chair of the research committee for the Massage Therapists’ Association of B.C. He can be reached at bodhi@massagetherapy.bc.ca


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