Advocating for Science to Drive Healthcare Decisions

Sep 29, 2020

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Position statement from American Association of Critical-Care Nurses calls for all healthcare decision-making to be based on science, not expediency or ideology

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Sept. 29, 2020 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has released a position statement calling for all healthcare decision-making to be anchored in the best scientific evidence available. The statement, “Science Must Drive Clinical Practice and Public Health Policy,” reinforces nursing professionals’ commitment to following the best evidence possible to provide care for patients and families.

“It is vital for our work to be guided by evidence,” said AACN President Elizabeth Bridges, PhD, RN, CCNS, FCCM, FAAN. She is professor, Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems at the University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, and clinical nurse researcher at the University of Washington Medical Center. “We must also be willing to innovate, yet thoughtfully and efficiently test changes to find the safest and most effective approaches to patient care and health policy.”

The AACN position statement outlines several recommended actions for nurses and healthcare policy makers.

Recommended actions for nurses include:

  • Using evidence-based practice, a problem-solving approach that involves the conscientious use of current best evidence, in making decisions about patient care.
  • Being ardent defenders of evidence-based science and having respect for expert knowledge, especially when they are attacked for commercial or political gain.
  • Speaking out against censorship of scientific ideas or the silencing of legitimate experts who provide advice for the betterment of public health.

Recommended actions for healthcare policy makers include:

  • Using the resources of their office to sift fact from falsehood and communicating with integrity in the service of their constituents.
  • Implementing healthcare directives that have been scientifically proven to establish or maintain public health, even if they are unpopular or difficult to maintain.
  • Encouraging the free flow of evidence-based scientific ideas and promoting the voices of legitimate experts who seek to communicate advice for the public welfare.

“During times darkened by fear of disease and mistrust of science, nurses must mark a bright line between evidence-based healthcare guidance and opinions based on economic expediency or political ideology,” the statement notes. “Even when fast-moving public health crises make it impossible to find sufficient amounts of peer-reviewed research, public policy decisions must be based on carefully evaluated healthcare information and the guidance of fully qualified experts.”

Read the full statement online.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;