Prof. Ekanem E. Ekanem1 and Dr. Bernadine N. Ekpenyong2
1. Epidemiologist & Biostatistician, Department of Community Health & Primary Care College of Medicine, University of Lagos
2. Optometrist & Epidemiologist, Department of Public Health, College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar Editor-in-chief JNOA
The basic diﬀerence between conventional research and evidence-based research (EBR) is that EBR relies on the use of prior research in a systematic and transparent way to inform a new study so that research questions can be answered in a valid and eﬃcient manner and published in an accessible medium1-2.
A new study should only be informed by systematically examining existing evidence to determine the need for such a study, design, and methods. Knowing how to conduct evidence-based research is a necessary skill for practising optometrists, academic optometrists and other health professionals.
Evidence-based research is an oﬀshoot of evidence-based medicine, which seeks to use the best available research evidence, coupled with the clinician’s experience and patient values to provide the best possible quality care. In conducting EBR, each researcher should follow professional, ethical and legal norms.
The essential value of EBR is to avoid research waste and to provide answers to practical clinical and Public Health problems. This paper presents the essential elements of evidence-based research, the design and conduct of intervention and analytic observational studies.
There are diﬀerent reasons why people conduct research. For students in academic institutions, researches are conducted largely as part of the requirement for the award of a degree.
For academicians, most studies are conducted simply because they are expected to publish for promotion, or they would perish”. In order to avoid perishing, many conduct researches and publish in journals with little or no impact factor. For the above reasons, there has been a proliferation of journals many of them unable to live up to their ﬁrst anniversary.
In many of these scenarios, research resources (funds, materials) and eﬀort are wasted. In healthcare, numerous examples abound of research waste which arises from questions irrelevant to public health, clinicians and patients, inappropriate design and methods, inaccessible publication, and biased and unusable reports.
For example, it has been reported that majority of the clinical trials conducted in the latter part of the twentieth century and published in major medical journals were not evidence-based, i.e did not present any systematic reviews of existing evidence to justify the need for the research (3-5).
Many were designed without speciﬁcation of the primary outcomes. Others were conducted with design ﬂaws. EBR aims at addressing these shortcomings. In industry and many organizations, research is conducted primarily for the purpose of breaking new frontiers such as new technological advancement, new and eﬀective drugs, new and eﬀective intervention programmes.