The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice is a cyclical, seven-step process that guides the integration of research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values into the decision-making process for clinical practice. Learn more about this evidence-based practice model here. The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice is a framework that offers a systematic approach to incorporating research into clinical decision-making, ultimately leading to better patient care. In this article, we’ll delve into the key components of the Iowa Model, explore its implementation, and discuss its significance in modern healthcare.

Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice

In the rapidly advancing field of healthcare, evidence-based practice has gained prominence as a cornerstone for delivering effective care. This approach involves integrating the best available research evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences to make informed decisions. By relying on evidence, healthcare professionals can ensure that their practices are rooted in the latest advancements and proven methodologies.

Origins and Development of the Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice

The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice traces its roots back to the late 1990s when nurse researchers at the University of Iowa sought to bridge the gap between research and practice. This model emerged as a collaborative effort, involving nurses, researchers, educators, and administrators. Notable contributors like Marita Titler and Joanne Dochterman played pivotal roles in shaping the model’s development.

Key Principles of the Iowa Model

The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice is characterized by a series of interconnected steps that guide practitioners in making evidence-based decisions. The process begins with identifying a clinical problem and progresses through the synthesis of evidence, translation into practice, and ongoing evaluation of outcomes. This systematic approach ensures that decisions are well-informed and supported by credible research.

Implementing the Iowa Model in Healthcare Settings

To effectively implement the Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice, healthcare organizations need to follow a structured approach. This involves identifying clinical issues, conducting rigorous literature reviews, determining the feasibility of interventions, and continuously monitoring the results. Successful implementations have led to improved patient outcomes and a culture of evidence-based care.

Seven Steps of The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice

The seven steps of the IM-EBP (Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice) are:

  1. Ask a question. The first step is to identify a clinical question that is important to the patient, nurse, or organization. The question should be specific, answerable, and relevant to the practice setting.
  2. Search for evidence. Once the question has been identified, the next step is to search for the best available evidence to answer it. This includes searching for research studies, clinical practice guidelines, and other relevant sources of information.
  3. Critically appraise the evidence. The third step is to critically appraise the evidence that has been found. This involves evaluating the quality of the studies, the relevance of the findings, and the applicability of the evidence to the specific clinical situation.
  4. Integrate evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. The fourth step is to integrate the evidence with the nurse’s clinical expertise and the patient’s values and preferences. This is done to make a decision about the best course of action for the patient.
  5. Implement the change. Once a decision has been made, the next step is to implement the change in practice. This may involve changing the way care is delivered, the use of new interventions, or the development of new policies and procedures.
  6. Evaluate the outcomes. The sixth step is to evaluate the outcomes of the change. This involves measuring the impact of the change on patient care, staff satisfaction, and other relevant outcomes.
  7. Disseminate the findings. The final step is to disseminate the findings of the EBP process to others. This can be done through publications, presentations, or other channels.

Advantages of the Iowa Model

One of the primary advantages of the Iowa Model is its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. By involving various healthcare professionals, from nurses to physicians and researchers, the model promotes a holistic approach to patient care. This collaboration ensures that decisions are comprehensive and reflect the diverse expertise of the healthcare team.

Here are some of the benefits of using the IM-EBP:

  • It can help to improve the quality of care by ensuring that nurses are using the best available evidence to make decisions.
  • It can help to reduce costs by preventing unnecessary tests and treatments.
  • It can improve patient satisfaction by ensuring that patients are receiving care that is based on their individual needs and preferences.
  • It can help to improve the knowledge and skills of nurses by providing them with the opportunity to learn about new research and evidence-based practices.
  • It can help to create a culture of evidence-based practice in the healthcare organization.

Critiques and Limitations

Despite its merits, the Iowa Model has faced some criticisms. Some argue that its linear approach oversimplifies the complexities of healthcare decision-making. Additionally, adapting the model to different healthcare settings can be challenging, as variations in resources and patient populations need to be considered.

Comparison with Other Evidence-Based Practice Models

In comparison to other models like the PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) framework, the Iowa Model stands out for its emphasis on problem identification and evaluation. While the PICO framework is often used for formulating clinical questions, the Iowa Model provides a broader framework for integrating evidence into practice.

Educational Implications and Training

Integrating the Iowa Model into healthcare education is crucial for preparing future professionals. By incorporating evidence-based practice principles into curricula, educational institutions can ensure that graduates are equipped with the skills to critically appraise research, make informed decisions, and provide high-quality care.

Future Directions and Evolution of the Iowa Model

As healthcare technology continues to evolve, the Iowa Model is likely to undergo further refinement. Advancements in data analytics, electronic health records, and telehealth could all influence how evidence is synthesized, translated, and applied in practice. The model’s flexibility positions it well for adaptation to these changes.


The Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice has emerged as a powerful tool for aligning research and clinical decision-making in healthcare. By following a systematic process, practitioners can enhance patient outcomes, promote interdisciplinary collaboration, and ensure that their practices are grounded in the latest evidence. Embracing the principles of the Iowa Model paves the way for a future where evidence-driven care is the norm.


What is the primary goal of the Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice?

The primary goal of the Iowa Model is to facilitate the integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making, leading to improved patient outcomes.

How does the Iowa Model differ from other evidence-based practice frameworks?

Unlike some frameworks that focus solely on formulating clinical questions, the Iowa Model provides a comprehensive approach that addresses problem identification, evidence synthesis, translation into practice, and ongoing evaluation.

What role does interdisciplinary collaboration play in the Iowa Model?

Interdisciplinary collaboration is central to the Iowa Model, as it ensures that decisions are informed by the expertise of various healthcare professionals, leading to more comprehensive care.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice.

Name -Parika Parika holds a Master's in Nursing and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Nursing. In addition to her clinical experience, Parika has also served as a nursing instructor for the past 10 years, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for the nursing profession.

Leave a Reply

Recent articles


More like this