Document Type

White Paper

Original Publication Date



The Clinical Inquiry Process Diagram (version 4) is an updated version of the previous iteration (version 3) created in 2020. It offers a more detailed depiction of the steps involved in research, performance improvement, and evidence-based practice, with new callouts on ethical reviews, feasibility, research data, and changes in verbiage.

It is important to note that the clinical inquiry process is not a linear, sequential process. Rather, individuals may find themselves working on different parts of the process simultaneously or even revisiting previous steps as they move forward. This can be influenced by various factors, such as evolving evidence, organizational changes, and team dynamics to name a few.

Link to Previous Version:

Date of Submission

March 2023


The purpose of the diagram is to provide a clear understanding of the clinical inquiry process and to highlight the similarities and differences between research, performance improvement, and evidence-based practice. While it is not meant to be comprehensive, it serves as a tool to facilitate a shared understanding of when a particular question may lead to one of these three areas of clinical inquiry.

The author would like to acknowledge the following for their ideas and willingness to provide feedback to improve this latest version of the diagram.

  • Kady Martini, DNP, RN, EBP-CH, NEA-BC (The Ohio State University School of Nursing)
  • Kerry A. Milner, DNSc, RN, FNP-BC, EBP-CH (Sacred Heart University College of Nursing)
  • Alison J. Montpetit, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, FNAP (VCU Health System)
  • Cindy G. Zellefrow DNP MSEd RN CSN EBP-C (The Ohio State University School of Nursing)

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