Do you have an Evidence-Based or an Evidence-Informed practice?

I often hear these terms used interchangeably, but do they really mean the same thing?

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at]


Evidence-Based Practice

Sackett et al[1] defined evidence-based medicine, which has gone on to describe evidence-based practice (EBP) for many healthcare disciplines in these 5 steps[2] (simplified by me):

  1. convert a clinical need into an answerable question
  2. search for the best evidence to answer the question
  3. appraise the evidence for validity and usefulness
  4. integrate with clinical expertise and apply to practice
  5. evaluate performance

This approach may seem idealistic for the average massage therapy practice, because finding valid evidence to support all that we do is difficult at best and halting at worst. And if we are to find, evaluate, and apply evidence for every single clinical need or question that we see with each client, it could take hours to prepare for each treatment. Approaching the whole individual and all their needs and desires with specific and valid evidence may actually be impossible.

Okay, so maybe we don’t technically have Evidence-Based practices. But to ignore the growing mountain of valid evidence in the arena of massage therapy research because the task seems daunting is to ignore best practices. And best practices say we consider the evidence for safe and effective treatments. Even though it’s impossible to base everything we do on evidence, we can have evidence inform what we do.


Evidence-Informed Practice

The Massage Therapy Foundation says that research is only 1 of 3 parts to an Evidence-Informed Practice.[3] The 3 parts we can and should be using in our clinical decision-making process are described as:

  1. Client’s Values – consider your client’s goals, priorities, and aversions
  2. Practitioner’s Judgement – use your own education and experience
  3. What Does the Research Say? – consider the evidence that exists for your client’s condition(s)

Now, doesn’t that seem more reasonable? And, aren’t you already do this? That’s right, you have an Evidence-Informed Practice. The trickiest part is in keeping up with what the research says. Thankfully, the Massage Therapy Foundation shares resources to help you stay informed.

Keep up the good work!

[1] Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ. 1996 Jan 13;312(7023):71-2. doi: 10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71. PMID: 8555924; PMCID: PMC2349778.