Exploring How Practicing Social Workers Define Evidence-Based Practice

A Research Note

  • Jill M. Chonody Boise State University
  • Barbra Teater College of Staten Island, City University of New York 2800 Victory Blvd Staten Island, NY 10314
Keywords: evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practice, social work practitioners, social work education

Abstract

This research note presents findings from a study that sought to garner a better understanding of the way in which practicing social workers defined Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). As part of a larger quantitative study, 137 social work practitioners provided a definition for EBP through an online survey and indicated the extent to which they: consider themselves an evidence-based practitioner; believe practitioners should apply EBP in social work; and were prepared through their social work education to use EBP. Content analysis of the practitioners’ definitions of EBP revealed that the majority of respondents described EBP as an intervention or a product versus a process. Regardless of the definition that was provided, descriptive statistics revealed practitioners reported on average that they identified somewhat as an evidence-based practitioner, believed that practitioners should apply EBP in practice moderately to always, and felt only moderately prepared by their social work education for EBP. The findings suggest an opportunity in social work education may exist to further reinforce the process of EBP to delineate it from the evidence-based interventions that may also be taught, especially in clinical programs. Dissemination may also need to occur through mandated continuing education hours, much like ethics has been added as a requirement in some states.

Author Biographies

Jill M. Chonody, Boise State University

Associate Professor Social Work

Barbra Teater, College of Staten Island, City University of New York 2800 Victory Blvd Staten Island, NY 10314
ProfessorMSW Program DirectorDepartment of Social Work

References

Bellamy, J. L., Bledsoe, S. E., & Traube, D. E. (2006). The current state of evidence-based practice in social work: A review of the literature and qualitative analysis of expert interviews. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 3(1), 23-48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1300/J367v03n01_02

Berger, R. (2013). Incorporating EBP in field education: Where we stand and what we need. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10, 127-135. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15433714.2012.663663

Bledsoe-Mansori, S. E., Manuel, J. I., Bellamy, J. L., Fang, L., Dinata, E., & Mullen, E. J. (2013). Implementing evidence-based practice: Practitioner assessment of an agency-based training program. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10, 73-90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15433714.2011.581545

Council on Social Work Education [CSWE]. (2015). 2015 Educational policy and accreditation standards for baccalaureate and master’s social work programs. Retrieved from http://www.cswe.org/File.aspx?id=81660

Edmond, T., Megivern, D., Williams, C., Rochman, E., & Howard, M. (2006). Integrating evidence-based practice and social work field education. Journal of Social Work Education, 42, 377-396. doi: https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2006.200404115

Freud, S., & Krug, S. (2002). Beyond the code of ethics, Part I: Complexities of ethical decision making in social work practice. Families in Society, 83, 474-492. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.55

Gibbs, L., & Gambrill, E. ( 2002). Evidence-based practice: Counter-arguments to objections. Research on Social Work Practice, 12, 452-476. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731502012003007

Gray, M., Joy, E., Plath, D., & Webb, S. A. (2015). What supports and impedes evidence-based practice implementation? A survey of Australian social workers. British Journal of Social Work, 45, 667-684. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct123

Jayne, S. (2014). Using principles of practice-based research to teach evidence-based practice in social work. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 11, 222-235. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15433714.2013.850327

Jenson, J. M., & Howard, M. O. (2013). Evidence-based practice. In the Encyclopedia of social work. Retrieved from http://socialwork.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.001.0001/acrefore-9780199975839-e-137?rskey=CZM7Kp&result=1

Lune, H., & Berg, B. L. (2017). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Manuel, J., Mullen, F., Fang, L., Bellamy, J., & Bledsoe, S. (2009). Preparing social work practitioners to use evidence-based practice: A comparison of experiences from an implementation project. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(5), 613-627. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731509335547

McLaughlin, H., & Teater, B. (2017). Evidence-informed practice for social workers. London: Open University Press/McGraw Hill Education.

Morago, P. (2010). Dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practice in the social services: A UK survey. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 7, 452-465. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15433714.2010.494973

Mullen, E. J., & Bacon, W. (2004). A survey of practitioner adoption and implementation of practice guidelines and evidence-based treatments. In A. R. Roberts & K. Yeager (Eds.), Evidence-based practice manual: Research and outcome measures in health and human services (pp. 210-218). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Parrish, D. E., & Rubin, A. (2012). Social workers’ orientations toward the evidence-based practice process: A comparison with psychologists and licensed marriage and family therapists. Social Work, 57, 201-210. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/sws016

Pope, N. D., Rollins, L., Chaumba, J., & Risler, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice knowledge and utilization among social workers. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 8, 349-368. doi: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15433710903269149

Rubin, A., & Parrish, D. E. (2007). View of evidence-based practice among faculty in master of social work programs: A national survey. Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 110- 122. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731506293059

Sackett, D. L., Straus, S. E., Richardson, W. S., Rosenberg, W., & Haynes, R. B. (2000). Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM (2nd ed.). New York: Churchill Livingstone.

Teater, B., & Chonody, J. (2017). Identifying as an evidence-based social worker: The influence of attitudes, access, confidence, and education. Social Work Education: The International Journal. Published online December 28, 2017. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2017.1421161

Tuten, M., Morris-Compton, D., Abrefa-Gyan, T., Hwang, J., & Harrington, D. (2016). Predictors of the use of evidence-based interventions among National Association of Social Work (NASW) members. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 13, 253-262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/23761407.2015.1047109

Wharton, T. C. (2010). Exploring the uptake of evidence-based practice in social work. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Alabama.

Williams, N. J., & Sherr, M. E. (2013). Oh how I try to use evidence in my social work practice: Efforts, successes, frustrations, and questions. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10, 100-110. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15433714.2011.597299

Published
2019-01-02
Section
Articles