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IWU OCLS Tutorials: Master of Social Work Guide - Evidence-Based Practice


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What is EBP?


Environment + organizational context. EBP. "Evidence-based Social Work Practice." 2012.


Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience and ethics, and client preferences and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services. The practitioner, researcher and client must work together in order to identify what works, for whom and under what conditions. This approach ensures that the treatments and services, when used as intended, will have the most effective outcomes as demonstrated by the research. (Social Work Policy Institute)




PICO (Translating the Question into Searchable Parts)


Typically used in evidence-based medicine, the PICO model is a useful way of formulating client, community, or policy-related research questions. A well-built question or problem should include the four components of the model: ProblemInterventionComparison and Outcome.

See below for a client-problem research question example:




Describe the client/patient.  Important descriptors might include: age and gender.  Then describe the problem the patient is experiencing.  For example, you might say, "A four-year-old boy with PTSD"


Describe the intervention or treatment you are considering for the client/patient.  For example, "EMDR psychotherapy" for the child.


Ask yourself if there is a main alternative intervention that exists for the problem that you wish to use as a base of comparison.  Example: "cognitive-behavioral therapy." (Note: you may not always wish to compare interventions, so sometimes this part of your research question will be omitted.)


Ask yourself what result you want to see because of the therapy.  Example: "decreased PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares"








OCLS Databases

You can search any database for articles with content related to evidence-based practice.

Enter your search terms in separate search boxes and enter evidence-based in one of the search boxes.  


Screen shot of SocIndex search boxes with social work in box 1, evidence-based in box 2, and addiction in box 3.





Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses




Online Resources

Below you will find some online resources with evidence-based practice.

National Guideline Clearinghouse 

NGC is a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. 


California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC)

The CEBC provides child welfare professionals with easy access to vital information about selected child welfare related programs. Each program is reviewed and rated utilizing the CEBC Scientific Rating scale to determine the level of evidence for the program. The programs are also rated on a Relevance to Child Welfare Rating Scale.


The Campbell Collaboration: Systematic Reviews

The Campbell Library of Systematic Reviews provides access to systematic reviews in the areas of education, criminal justice, and social welfare. The library is a peer-reviewed source of reliable evidence of the effects of interventions.


The Community Guide (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) 

The Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) filters scientific literature on specific health problems. The Task Force on Community Preventive Services makes recommendations for the use of various interventions based on the evidence gathered in the rigorous and systematic scientific reviews of published studies.


National Cancer Institute: Research-Tested Intervention Programs 

This website offers research-tested intervention programs and products, review summaries and usefulness/integrity scores for each program, materials to adapt for use in your own program.


Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center (SAMHSA)

The SAMHSA Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center aims to provide communities, clinicians, policy makers, and others in the field with the information and tools they need to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings. The Resource Center contains a collection of science-based resources and is part of SAMHSA’s new comprehensive approach to identify and disseminate clinically sound and scientifically based policy, practices, and programs.


Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents: Research-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

The National Institute of Drug Abuse presents examples of research-based programs featuring a variety of strategies proven to be effective. Each program was developed as part of a research study, which demonstrated that over time youth who participated in the programs had better outcomes than those who did not.


Social Programs That Work 

Social Programs That Work, sponsored by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, provides findings from randomized controlled trials that, in their view, have important policy implications due to the effectiveness of social interventions studied.


Suicide Prevention Resource Center Resources and Programs   

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center Resources and Programs is an easy to search page for suicide prevention resources (articles, tools, fact sheets, reports, etc) and programs and practices (education, screening, treatment, environmental change, etc.). 


Tests & Measures


Published Tests 

Published tests are standardized tests available for purchase. Often, these tests must be purchased in quantity, and the producer may not want the test available to the general public or for copying. If you need more information about a published test, try a search in Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests. 


Unpublished Tests 

Unpublished tests are generally not for sale but instead are often available in full-text in an article, thesis, dissertation, or book.


Getting Permission to Use a Test 

To administer a test you have found:

  • Contact the current copyright holder for permission to use the test.
  • Contact information for the author or publisher is usually included within the test's profile. 
  • If the address of the author or publisher is not included in the profile, try searching in Google or another search engine.
  • If you have found a test created by an author of a journal article, the article will include the contact information for the author.



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