Exploring How Practicing Social Workers Define Evidence-Based Practice
A Research Note
Keywords:evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practice, social work practitioners, social work education
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.
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