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Evidence-Based Practice in Social Work : Home

Find Evidence (clearinghouses)

Find Evidence (scholarly article databases)

Find Empirically-Supported Treatments (EST)/ Programs/Interventions

EBP in Social Work: Overview

EBP Basics

What is EBP?  EBP = Evidence-Based Practice, defined as “...conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual [clients]" (Sackett et al., 1996, p.71).

The UNI Social Work Department defines evidence-based social work practice as "an approach to social work practice that includes the process of combining research knowledge, professional/clinical expertise, and client and community values, preferences, and circumstances. It is a dynamic and fluid process whereby practitioners continually seek, interpret, use, and evaluate the best available information in an effott to make the best practice decision in social work."

Who cares?

The profession cares: The Council on Social Work Education "recognizes that teaching social work students how to access, analyze, interpret, and appropriately employ evidence is critical to effective social work practice".

Your professors care: You are expected to use and cite high-quality evidence to support your conclusions in research papers/projects. Usually this means information that comes from peer-reviewed scholarly articles.

Your clients care: Should we use an intervention or implement a program that doesn't work? Of course not!  Don't reinvent the wheel, but start with what is effective based on the best available evidence.

You should care: If you want to be the best social work professional possible and truly make a difference, you'll use high-quality evidence to support what you do.

Source: Sackett, D.L, Rosenberg, W.M.C., Muir Gray, J.A., Haynes, R.B., & Richardson, W.S. (1996). Evidence-based medicine: What it is and what it isn't. British Medical Journal, 312(7023), 71-72, cited by Council on Social Work Education.

EBP Steps

1. Formulate a client, community, or policy-related question

2. Systematically search the literature (published evidence)

3. Appraise findings for quality and applicability

4. Apply these findings and considerations in practice

5. Evaluate the results.

Levels of Evidence

Subject Guide

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Sample Research Topics

Aging/elderly persons
Abuse (ie. child abuse, elder abuse, sexual abuse)
Child welfare
Elderly welfare
Persons with disabilities (ie. physical, mental, developmental)
Domestic violence
Education settings (ie. early childhood, K-12, higher education/post-secondary, special education)
Criminal justice system (prevention, probation/parole, incarceration, recidivism)
Family services
Family violence
Homeless persons
Human services
Mental health/mental illness
Public welfare
Social policy/advocacy
Substance abuse/addiction