Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-based practice is "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of [clients]". (Sackett, Richardson, Rosenberg & Haynes, 1997, 2)

Why Evidence-Based Practices?

Practitioners, consumers and third party payers want to know if a prescribed treatment works.

Evidence-based practice (EBP) interventions are typically associated with multiple randomized controlled research trials which are summarized in journal reviews. The research seeks to examine and identify which treatment interventions are effective. Examples include: reduction of symptoms, number of hospitalizations, improvement in social and vocational functioning, increases in self-reported positive moods, etc. 

The California Evidence-Based Clearing House for Child Welfare (CEBC) adds another layer to this. The CEBC describes EBP as the intersection of the best research evidence, best clinical experiences, and that is consistent with client values. 

Evidence-based practice refers not just to research based treatment interventions, but to research at the organizational level too. It has become necessary in the human service field to integrate research to practice and practice to research.

How do I know if it's Evidence-based?

Systematic Review Organizations

When reading a review, it's important to examine the procedures for how research studies were identified for inclusion and exclusion. Reviews serve as a good starting place, but should never substitute for your own careful examination of the literature if it's a topic that's important to you.

The following organizations systematically review and report on EBP for health and mental health interventions. 

  • California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC): searchable database of child welfare related programs and resources to help select and implement programs. 
  • Cochrane Collaboration: international effort to promote evidence-based healthcare for the purpose of enabling patients and doctors to make informed decisions about treatment and care. 
  • Campbell Collaboration: international network focused on helping people make well-informed decisions about the effects of interventions in the social, behavioral and educational arenas. 
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): the health services research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that translates research findings into better patient care and provides policymakers and other health care leaders with information needed to make critical health care decisions. AHRQ funds Evidence-Based Practice Centers to review and synthesize scientific evidence for conditions or technologies that are costly, common or important to the Medicare or Medicaid programs. The ISTSS review of treatments for PTSD used the AHRQ classification system in their report.
  • World Wide Web Resources for Social Workers (WWWRSW) and Information for Practice (IP): This site provides over 81,585 World Wide Web links, many of which focus on EBPs. The majority of the links are to full text electronic journals, newsletters, government agencies, educational institutions and professional organizations. 

Next Best: Promising Practices

A promising practice is an intervention that has had positive outcomes, however, the intervention does not meet the criteria for an evidence-based practice treatment.